Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera says promoting partnership between churches and government is key to ending the controversial quota system of selecting students to public universities.
Speaking during a rally in Mzuzu on Saturday, Chakwera promised to work with churches on tertiary education if MCP gets into government in 2019.
The MCP president, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, said the country can learn from the partnership that government and mission schools have enjoyed in promoting primary and secondary education.
He said if voted into power, his administration will come up with a similar policy to ensure that government supports universities owned by religious groups to increase access to higher education. Chakwera said in doing so, there will be enough space for students across the country and in turn end the quota system.
He said the policy is priority, arguing students should not suffer just because they come from a particular region. He said every student should have the right to quality education.
Said Chakwera: “We want to work together with religious groups. We know the first schools were started by missionaries and other religious groups. To date majority of national secondary schools belong to the Catholic Church. Government went into partnership with churches to run primary and secondary schools.
“We want to do the same for universities. We want all the universities to be supported by government and by doing so quota system will be history.”
He also bemoaned lack of government commitment to develop the Northern Region, stating that the region should have been the most prosperous region given the abundant natural resources that are there.
Chakwera said there is need to ensure equal distribution of resources to ensure that the region thrives. He said the region needs good roads and other infrastructure, but people have only been getting campaign talks.
In his remarks, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, who is also MCP vice-president, said promoting quota brings about divisions among Malawians.
He said there is no region with intelligent people and another region with dull ones. Msowoya said Malawians are one so students have to make it to university on merit.
During the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections campaign trail, President Peter Mutharika promised to abolish quota system once he gets into government, but his administration is still implementing the system which demands public institutions of higher learning to select a designated number of students based on their district of origin.