Community and academic perceptions of the University of Zambia. Postgraduate education as learning system for local community sustainable developement in Zambia

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Kantini, Samson
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The study established whether or not the current postgraduate education as a learning system at the University of Zambia (UNZA) was seen by Zambian academics and local community members to be serving sustainable development needs of local communities in Zambia. This was achieved by firstly identifying sustainable development needs of local communities in Zambia. Secondly, the study established linkages between the then UNZA postgraduate education system and local community sustainable development needs. Thirdly, the study looked at how local knowledge and global knowledge was being interfaced in the UNZA postgraduate education system. In the context of the study, local knowledge was looked at as contextual and indigenous knowledge as well as understanding of oneself and the environment found in communities that are native to a particular geographical area. Global knowledge was viewed as expert knowledge attained through formalised study and exposure to knowledge systems beyond boundaries of a given community. Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, data were collected using interview guides, observation checklist, Focus Group Discussions and document analysis. The target population was Zambian academics and community members at UNZA and Lusaka Province respectively. The sample size was sixty participants divided into groups of twenty across three categories: community members, lecturers and administrators, and students at postgraduate level across disciplines in different schools and departments of UNZA. In the analysis, these participants were categorised into three: community members, students and lecturers.The findings of the study revealed that postgraduate education as a learning system at the time of the study in the years 2011 to 2012 had linkages with local community development in Zambia. There were interfaces between local knowledge and global knowledge within the system. An in-depth analysis showed that while this was the case, these linkages were at that time very weak and the interfaces were malfunctioning. The malfunctioning of the interface between contextual and expert knowledge was a result of lacking a deliberate independent system that dealt with local and international networks. Such a system was necessary for ensuring that goals of local communities, the corporate world, governments and fellow learning institutions were taken care of by UNZA in the formulation and implementation of its curriculum. It was clear therefore that the absence of this kind of a system was posing serious challenges for UNZA postgraduate education as a learning system to meet sustainable development needs of local communities. Furthermore, a need for an innovation learning centre dubbed as Learnovation Center was identified and recommended. The Centre could help to strengthen the interface between local knowledge and global knowledge in the UNZA postgraduate learning system. This would be possible because UNZA would engage local communities and industries through this centre to develop, promote and patent indigenous knowledge systems to create products and systems that are locally relevant and have a global appeal.
Postgradute education-Zambia