It looks like the issue of students financial contributions to university will not die anytime soon. The flurry and tone of media articles and comments both in the print and electronic media about whether or not the outcome of the University of Malawi Students’ Union (UMSU) meeting with President Peter Mutharika is what was desired—to reduce fees by K50 000 from K400 000—shows that the matter if far from over.
From being half a loaf to being insignificant, some people think that there are other avenues the university could have taken. I share some of the comments my entry on the subject last week elicited from some readers.
“Dear Steve; thank you for the excellent article on fees. Unlike other contributions in the media which are advocating for a reduction of fees, it is very refreshing that you have backed the decision. The university fees are a joke and can’t support learning that produces quality graduates. What the student leaders and Civil Society Organisations (SCOs) are forgetting is that we are living in an interconnected world where these half-baked graduates will have to compete for jobs with other Malawians who were educated in good universities outside Malawi. The media is, therefore, key in communicating the long term impact of low fees on Malawi’s competitiveness. Daniel Jamu, Zomba.” (Via email).
Thanks Daniel. Keep sharing your views.
Your article, ‘Political Correctness Killed Public Varsity Fees’ refers. There’s one blind dimension to the Unima [University of Malawi] fees row which remains unaddressed yet. This is the potential of our public universities to generate own resources to supplement the traditional inflows of government subventions and student contributions.
Why don’t we secure one more loan from the Chinese to build a medical college hospital to be operated by the College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing? The Malawi Polytechnic [a constituent college of the University of Malawi] has expertise to run commercial engineering services in, for instance, motor vehicle mechanics, metal fabrication, solar electrification, architectural, civil and electrical services.
Luanar’s economic viability surpasses all. It is situated on a small country within a country. Much of its thousands of hectares of prime arable land is idle. The university can venture into commercial farming anytime of the day and substantially contribute toward food security in the country. Its perennial water dam offers a solid opportunity for large scale fish farming with potential to feed the Capital City and its surrounding area throughout the year.
Lecturers at Chancellor College (Chanco) spend half of their annual manhours out in the field carrying out private consultancies. The college doesn’t benefit anything from these private enterprises. It instead continues to suffer economic losses in the form of lost manhours, abuse of its ICT [Information Communication and Technology] resources and even manpower when support staff or even students are used in research works. Why doesn’t Chanco introduce a levy mechanism like the one at the Staff Development Institute [in Blantyre] whereupon a teaching staff declares his/her consultancy to the administration and agrees to make a percentage contribution to the college from the consultancy income?
Paul Lupiya” (via email).
Thank you for your comments. Please continue sharing your views.
Now about those said to be implicated in the K236 billion cashgate. It has been reported that some of them are Cabinet Ministers. But President Peter Mutharika has, however, said he also does not know the people and that if he knew any Cabinet Minister implicated in the forensic audit report he would crack the whip but as of now, because he has not seen the report, he cannot do anything.
This is what I want to say. If the President was really interested to know, he already knows the said Cabinet ministers. He must have been the first to get the report.
But as I said a few months ago, it is just a matter of time before all those implicated in the report face the wrath of the law. The President can joke about it now but time will come when he will no longer be able to make such statements which are, to say the least, a mockery of our intelligence.
If I were to offer advice to the President, and in very good faith for that matter, it would be to say, he should keep quiet on the issue because what he is saying today will sooner rather than later boomerang. We always forgive him that he is not a gifted orator, so he should as much as possible try and stick to his prepared text. The other day it was about zitete or zicheche, or whatever, and now this. He ought to be on top of things.
But whether it is true or not that some cabinet ministers are implicated in the forensic report, the Auditor General has said he won’t release the report with names because the Attorney General has advised him not to. Both the Auditor General and Attorney General are under the President. And both are just a phone call away from him. By now the President ought to know better that people are angry at the looting of the K236 billion of their taxes. n