The Myth of Free Education in Zambia


By Francisco Mumba

Both the leftists and rightists divide appreciates the functioning of education in transforming society then, now and in the future.

Education for the purpose of this paper refers to the process of receiving or giving systematic  instructions especially at school or university whilst system refers to a set of things working together as part of the mechanism or an interconnecting network , a complex whole.

Educational system is viewed differently and coloured by ideology and experience.

In this submission the writer makes a case based on the socialist ideology to argue the point of free education.

Traditional Marxist view education system as working in the interest of the ruling class elites. Marx perspective first advances that educational system only helps to reproduce class inequality.

It is uncontested submission that the middle class in Zambia uses material and cultural capital to ensure that their children gets into the best schools. The wealthier families and their children often gets this best education which invariably helps them to acquire middle class jobs.

The poor are ultimately condemned to perpetual inferior education and fails ultimately to access white colour jobs. This is a class issue.

Secondly Marx’s perspective of education is seen as legitimising of class inequality because money determines one’s quality of education and not witty. For example in the Zambian education, the poor  working class’ will either be in community schools with challenged infrastructure or government schools  where teacher – pupil ratio is 1-100 respectively.

It is absolutely unimaginable even to think that these two situations could produce to even near best outcome.

Thirdly, the bourgeoisie education pedagogy only reinforces the skills and behaviour for capitalist interest and needs especially in the industry.

The notion of free education in Zambia as advanced by the PF government is not only misplaced but warped and devoid of the meaning of free education.

The supposition of free education as chorused by PF is on the basis of cost free and the submission by its proponents lacks understanding.

The Socialist Party of Zambia’s understanding of free education provides a fundamentally different position on the notion of free education. Government agitate for a free education on cost alone devoid of content.

Socialist Party influenced by Marxist/Leninist ideology argues that free education can only be so when both cost and content are addressed for the benefit of the working class.

Socialist Party will socialize the education by both removing the cost (fees) and decolonize the content.

Socialist Party advances popular or progressive education which answers to the needs of the community than the current system driven by a job or capitalist interest.

It is neither laudable nor smart for PF government to advance that they are promoting free education because free education in their view can only go as far as fees are concerned.

The position of Socialist Party is that free education is when both cost and content reflect the needs of the working class and yet none of these reflects anywhere in the PF government but they have  continued to chorus that they are providing free education.

It is against this backdrop that the writer charges that Zambia under PF government has no free education!

The struggle continues!


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