Education activists have faulted a proposal by opposition members of Parliament (MPs) to stop the increase in fees in public secondary and tertiary education institutions, saying the decision could further worsen education standards.
In his motion in Parliament on Friday, Salima Central MP Felix Jumbe (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) argued that the recent hike of school fees comes when many Malawians are experiencing hunger and financial challenges. He said the fees hike would only exacerbate the situation in many households.
But Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said government is justified in the fee hike given the current economic status, but needed to tread carefully as to the magnitude of the increase.
He said: “I feel it is important to increase fees in both secondary and tertiary education, but the hike percentage is just too much given that [more than half] of the population lives on less than a dollar per day.”
But Kondowe faulted the policy to allow students who fail to pay their fees to withdraw and be readmitted the following year as a poor arrangement.
Educationist Steve Sharra said there is urgent need to identify funding so that the education sector does not grind to a halt.
He said: “We are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, government’s decision to introduce or raise the various types of school fees is as a result of the severe economic hardship the country is facing. Hence, the expectation that parents should contribute to education.”
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) announced a fee hike in public secondary schools of K85 000 at national secondary schools, K35 000 at district secondary schools and K11 000 at community day secondary schools while university fees have gone up to between K190 000 and K280 000 with no government allowances.
During debate on the motion, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu emphasised that MPs went beyond their mandate passing the motion. n