ZAMBIA is a country of functional illiterates, says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda.
Officiating at the launch of the revised edition of late John Mwanakatwe's book "The growth of education in Zambia since independence",
Chikwanda said the country remained stagnant due to weak investment in education.
"We should not gloss over the challenges that we have in the sphere of education," Chikwanda, who is acting Republican President said. "Zambia, to some extent, appears to be a functional illiterate country. The readership is very low."
Chikwanda, who served in various ministerial positions in the UNIP regime in the 1970s, explained that Zambia lagged behind countries like South Korea which had smaller economies over 40 years due to lack of investment in education.
"There is no other way any society can go forward without commensurate investment in education," he said. "Education is the only way through which society enhances productive capacities of their nationals."
Chikwanda eulogised Mwanakatwe for his decision to document Zambia's education history at the time when it was unfashionable to rise outside the structure of the one party system of UNIP.
"It was not common practice to make reference to what people did because the one party system had its own internal logic that power was indivisible and so we tended to glorify the individual leaders and a few cronies around him," he said. "But we never sufficiently acknowledged what other citizens were doing, especially people in the education field. Mr Mwanakatwe was a unique role model."
Chikwanda blamed Zambia's underdevelopment on attitudes of citizens who were reluctant to render national service.
"...because Zambia has a very strange culture and I am happy that the secretary general Wynter Kabimba of our party is here so that he can infuse this in our party programme," said Chikwanda. "In Zambia, people
have only rights and privileges but have no obligations, no responsibilities or duties. And that culture has evolved right from the inception of independence. Let's have a country where people, apart from having their lavish privileges and especially the lavish right to be ignorant and irresponsible...let's blend this culture with the sense of civic duty; the sense of responsibility and an obligation to our country and especially posterity."
At the same function, former education permanent secretary Dr Sichalwe Kasanda said Mwanakatwe laid the foundation of research and writing books in Zambia.
Dr Kasanda said after Mwanakatwe's publication in 1968, there had not been any new publication cataloguing the development of education in Zambia, post independence.
The last three paragraphs of the extended version of Mwanakatwe's book had been written by Dr Kasanda.
And Zamtel managing director Dr Mupanga Mwanakatwe eulogized his father who was a teacher, lawyer and politician.
Dr Mwanakatwe said the family decided to revise and launch the extended version of the book which had become a standard textbook for undergraduate students at the University of Zambia's School of Education and those involved in post-graduate studies on the evolution and management of education in Zambia.