columnBy Sycorax Ndhlovu
ALTHOUGH some people were tensed up when Southern Province permanent Secretary, Dr Chileshe Mulenga said that Zambia is a society close to being dead because there are no professional models, this article will provide factors to consider when becoming a professional model.
Zambian students, professionals and the government have a lot to do to improve on professionalism for this country to forge ahead in its socio-cultural, political and economic development processes.
This article will also demonstrate that becoming a professional model is a complex and tasking process that demands a well-defined career goal, one's purpose in life, sacrifice and discipline.
Last week in this column, 'Learning from others to improve on ourselves was discussed. This writer gave examples of how his senior school mates at Chinunda Primary School in Chipata district inspired him to work hard at school both in primary and secondary education.
School mates like Norman Sakala, Thomas Phiri and those from the Msoni family were mentioned. But in addition to such senior mentors, my late mother, Amai Tikhozenji Zulu (MHSRIP) used to say: 'If you work hard at school, you will be like that teacher, that agricultural officer or that medical doctor.' My late mother was citing examples of professionals within the community which I could phyiscally see, envy and get inspired .
During the United National Independence Party (UNIP) regime, in almost all local communities, one could see smart, disciplined, well motivated and committed teachers from lower primary to upper primary schools. For example, at Chinunda Primary School in Chipata district, one could see teachers like Mr Charles C Nthara (Chipata), George N Mwanza (Chipata), Bornface J Nyirenda (Chipata) and Mr Holland Moyo (Chipata) among others as models of government officers in the area. One could also see nurses, medical assistants, agricultural commodity demonstrators (now agricultural assistants), veterinary assistants, etc all in smart appearance and committed to duty.
Even when one went to secondary schools like Chadiza Secondary School, one was greeted with hard working, confident and well motivated teachers with high levels of discipline. They inspired pupils to work hard so that they become like such respected workers in society.
Teachers like Mr D S Hanyinza (former deputy head), Mr Nyirongo (former snr teacher), Arthur Banda (Chipata), L Mooya (now at St Mary's Secondary school, Lusaka) and others inspired many pupils at Chadiza Secondary School to work hard and become responsible workers. This is why we have people like Samuel Kasankha, Laston Moyo and others serving this country diligently. In colleges , universities and places of work, it was the same.
Former government workers in rural and urban areas who maintained smart appearances and were committed to their work were professional models who inspired others in such communities. Most children and youths, including this writer at that time, wanted to go to school and get higher academic or professional qualifications because they had professional models amidst them.
Nakonde district education standards officer, B J Mulenga said most girls in rural areas aren't keen to work hard and go further in formal education because they don't see female professional models in such areas.
This means that in the absence of professional models, those behind cannot progress because there is no one pulling them forward psychologically.
As Dr Mulenga noted, if one asks most school going children today, most of them have no career guidance because of few or no professional models around them who can inspire our young generation.
This is one of the factors which government is supposed to consider because most children; especially in rural areas, don't see genuine professional models to inspire them to work hard at school so that they can be like such models.
This is why one learns that during school times most of the school going children prefer gathering vinkhubala (caterpillars) as opposed to going to school because they look at vinkhubala to be more profitable than going to school which in actual fact does not add any value to human life.
This impression is created firstly because those who have gone to school are not working due to high levels of unemployment.
Secondly, that those who have gone to school and are working appear to be as hopeless as those who haven't gone to school.
Thirdly, those who have gone to school and are working haven't displayed discipline, principles and exemplary professional and social life in the communities they work.
Contrary to this, those who haven't gone far in formal education and are doing some honest or dubious businesses seem to be more comfortable and models than the so-called professionals. Why?
For one to be a professional model, one needs to have a career goal, purpose for one's life, principles, self-discipline and hard work. One also needs to have a conducive learning environment with appropriate and practical school syllabi, well-equipped science laboratories, highly motivated teachers and well stocked libraries with all relevant textbooks for one's studies from lower grades to university education levels. This has been a big challenge in Zambia for some time now.
One can't become a professional model by getting qualifications through examination leakages or facilitating such academic or professional malpractices. Becoming a professional model also requires change of personality and attitude to be highly appreciated by the community one serves. This can involve a lot of personal discipline. Professional models are ethical and avoid any conflict of interests or illegality. Professional models are not involved in any form of abuse of office, bribery or corruption.
Becoming a professional model also demands personal commitment, endurance and sacrifice, even under difficult conditions like those of the Zambian environment. One can't say: 'Because Zambia has a bad professional development environment; therefore, I will be a 'useless' professional.' Such a personal resolution relating to professionalism can be professional suicide.
But it seems most of the professionals in this country have taken this path; and this is why Dr Mulenga didn't beat about the bush by stating that Zambia is a society close to a dead one as far as professionalism is concerned.
Even where professional development process is hard to achieve, consider purpose for your life and career goal to work hard, sacrifice and become a professional model. As one author wrote: 'If success was easy; everyone was going to be successful.' It's not easy to be a professional model.
Reports that some medical doctors and some nurses in health institutions have poor attitudes towards patients reduce many marks in professional modelling in such a profession.
When one sees poor workmanship on building and roads works within few months of completing constructing that building or road works speaks volumes of whether there are some professional models in such areas or not where to learn from. Cases where law enforcement officers are the ones who are highly involved in corruption and many other crimes put respective professionals in disrepute.
Thanks to late Professor Lameck Goma and also to Professor Nkandu Luo, Dr Francis Manda, Dr Mannaseh Phiri, Dr tackson Lambart, Dr Solomon Jere (Deputy Inspector General of Police), Annie Chifungula (Auditor General) and others who have demonstrated their untiring efforts in their respective areas as professional models through their contributions to solving community problems.
Thanks to Dr Ludwig Sondashi as well who is reported to be making some strides in some herbal drugs relating to the cure of HIV and AIDS.
Zambia has many graduates now; but Zambians don't seem to see many professional models and benefit from such. Zambia consumes more from imports than what it produces on its own because of professional inadequacy or deficiency.
Zambia has a rich potential for entrepreneurship to reduce unemployment and high poverty levels. But most of the professionals who can start businesses and employ a lot of youths are stuck in formal employment.
But for more professionals to rise to role models, government and employers should put in place effective labour laws and legal frameworks; and sharpen their supervisory skills to recognize hard work and professional practice respectively; and motivate workers accordingly.
Zambians who have migrated to other countries where professionals are recognised and highly rewarded are now professional models in those countries.
Unless one has sound professional qualifications and with practical knowledge and skills, one shouldn't be recruited and maintained in employment.
How can Zambia account for its high unemployment and high poverty levels amidst its many rich natural resources such as fertile soils, minerals, wildlife,abundant water bodies, favourable climate and with such numbers of graduates in various fields if Dr Mulenga is wrong in his observations?
Professional models are professional consultants. They are good at not only solving community problems but they are also consultants among fellow professionals in those fields.
Zambia is failing to prove its professional models in most fields like making towns and cities clean; and in creating effective draining systems in towns and cities; especially in Lusaka. No wonder one sees more other professionals in politics than those who studied political science.
It is from such an analysis that individual pupils, students, professionals, professional bodies and the government should reflect and strategise the way forward as far as professionalism is concerned in this country.
Failure to do so, the socio-cultural, economic and political development process of this country will remain a pipe dream; and Dr Mulenga's views that Zambian society is close to dead as far as professional models are concerned might be proved true.
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