Zambia Adventist University graduates first class with new government accreditation

By: Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN
Date: 10/04/07
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September 17, 2007 Monze, Zambia ....

Graduates at Zambia Adventist University are among 80 students to earn the first officially recognized degrees granted by the school following its accreditation four years ago by the Zambian government. [photos: courtesy Zambia Adventist University]

David Kenneth Kaunda, who worked as a teacher before serving as Zambia's first president, commended the quality of education Zambia Adventist University provides students in the country.

Zambia's minister of education, Geoffrey Lungwangwa, right, told the graduates that while good grades and degrees are important, practical service in society will do more to promote economic development in the country.

Zambia's minister of education this month urged graduates of Seventh-day Adventist-owned Zambia Adventist University to put their degrees to work in the country, particularly in areas of economic development. Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa said the graduates' good academic standing was of little value if they didn't contribute to society.

"Zambia is in a hurry to develop and cannot afford to have people who think in terms of credentials instead of ... service to others," Lungwangwa told the class of 80 during the September 2 graduation ceremony.

The class is the first to complete officially recognized four-year degree programs at Zambia Adventist University since the Zambian government in 2003 registered the school as an accredited private university.

"This graduation is such an affirmation of the spirit of faith in Zambia," said Pardon Mwansa, a vice president for the Adventist world church. "The school's leadership began with nothing but faith and determination to have their own university. This is such a big occasion."

The school's roots reach back to 1903, when Adventist missionary W.H. Anderson crossed the Zambezi River from the Solusi Mission in Zimbabwe to establish the Rusangu Mission in Zambia two years later. The mission school soon grew to a secondary school and then, in the early 90s, a ministerial school offering courses in theology and pastoral training.

But the diplomas Zambian students earned at the school were not recognized in the country. Mwansa said many Adventist Zambians, desperate for an education, attended anyway. Others traveled to nearby Zimbabwe or South Africa to earn degrees.

"If you are attacked by a dog, you use any stick you have," Mwansa said, quoting a popular Zambian adage to describe the situation.

In the mid-1990s, Zambian Adventists -- a half a million strong -- redoubled their efforts to secure accreditation. Church leaders in the country closed the ministerial school to better focus their efforts on planning a university. They added more degree programs, hired qualified teachers, spruced up their facilities and applied for accreditation. They also submitted expansion plans that included the construction of more classrooms and a library, then invited the government to keep tabs on their progress.

During his remarks, Lungwangwa commended the fledgling university for offering a wide range of general education courses that would equip students for service beyond graduation. He said teacher-training programs such as the one ZAU offers encourage lifelong learning and help keep education in the country from stagnating.

Lungwangwa was accompanied by David Kenneth Kaunda, who led Zambia to independence in 1964 and served as the country's president until 1991. Until his election, Kaunda worked as a teacher and emphasized educational development in Zambia throughout his presidency. Kaunda spoke highly of the quality of education ZAU offers.

During the ceremony, ZAU vice-chancellor Mwenda Mulundano thanked the Zambian government for its support of the development of education in the country. He then urged the government to go further by extending benefits such as jobs and state scholarships to ZAU students and graduates. ZAU is one of six private universities in Zambia.

Zambia Adventist University is located in the country's Southern Province about 120 miles south of its capital, Lusaka, and nearly 200 miles north of Victoria Falls.

--additional reporting by Victor H. Haangala



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