Government plans to table a loan bill in Parliament, which, if passed will see students in private colleges accessing education loans like their colleagues in public universities.
Higher Education chief education officer Rose Kalizang’oma said this during a debate organised by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in Mzuzu City on Monday.
The debate, which centred on education rights, is part of this year’s World Human Rights Day celebration.
The debate looked into several aspects of education in relation to human rights, but the equitable system of selecting students to public universities discussions took centre stage.
People faulted government for sticking to a system they argued is discriminatory and impinging on people’s rights to education.
One of the panellists, Isaac Cheke Ziba, a coordinator for academic programmes at St John of God, said the equitable system is retrogressive. He said it is not fair for government to bring divisions among its own people by depriving deserving students places in colleges.
Ziba called on government to consider partnering with private institutions to accommodate government sponsored students.
However, Kalizang’oma said government has already worked on a loan bill that will support needy students in private colleges with loans and the bill has already been to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament.
Kalizang’oma said research found that 91 percent of students who go to public universities are from well to do families, went to good secondary schools and can manage to pay fees. She said only seven percent are needy.
She said in the 2013-17 Education Sector Implementation Plan government wants 30 percent of students selected to public universities to be from community day secondary schools and the students will have to undergo bridging courses to adapt to college.
MHRC commissioner Benedicto Kondowe warned government against implementing decisions that it is not sure will work to the advantage of the country.
He said to have the loan facility in private colleges entails putting in place an effective recovery system otherwise resources may go down the drain as is the case with public universities.