By Nchimunya Miyoba
Copperbelt University (CBU) Staff Unions have demanded for the Minister of Higher Education Prof Nkandu Luo to rescind her decision of abolishing meal allowances for students in public universities.
The Unions said Prof Luo has abrogated the provisions of the law under section 24 of the education laws and scholarship act of 2016.
This is contained in a joint statement made available to the media by the three staff unions, CBU Senior Administrative Professional and Technical Staff Union, CBU Academic Union and the CBU Allied Workers Union respectively.
The Unions said that the provision of meal allowances to students have their foundation under an act of Parliament.
They said that neither a minister nor the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship has the power to abolish meal allowances for public universities.
The unions said that the Minister of Higher Education can only abolish meal allowances legally if her ministry appeals the current act and replaces it with a new one as this will require Parliament and key stakeholders approval.
“As things stand, what the Minister said is a mere pronouncement which does not have the backing of the law which can successfully be challenged in the courts of the law. we demanded that the Minister should come out in the open and explain to the nation the real reasons for the pronouncement than lying to the nation and media houses that government had no intention of abolishing meal allowances,” they said.
They said that as much as the extension of of the loan scheme is welcome, the extension as reported will not be possible as government has lamentably failed to fund the existing public universities.
The three unions stated that government is failing to fund the two public universities as such the intention to extend the facility to other universities will see a reduction of funds to universities thereby affecting operations of newly opened universities as they will unable to run smoothly.