Primary education is not free in Mzimba South because learners are asked to pay money, a development that is in sharp contrast with government’s policy which stipulates that no pupil should directly or indirectly pay for basic education, a survey has established.
The survey, undertaken by Mzimba Education Network (Mziden), found that teachers and school management committees (SMCs) come up with norms which see pupils paying money to finance some school activities.
Mziden chairperson Techson Amadu told education stakeholders that the survey was carried out in the area of Inkosi Khosolo and found that learners pay up to K2 000 as development fund, K2 000 for water bills for schools with access to private water points, K2 000 administration fees and K150 for examination report card processing.
He said the learners also contribute one tin (about 20 kilogrammes) of maize each to support teachers’ development centres (TDCs).
“Parents with pupils in Standard 8 shoulder a huge burden as they have to dig deep into their pockets to also pay K1000 as mock test fee and K2 000 for Malawi National Examination Board [Maneb] identity card [ID],” Amadu said.
Mzimba South district education manager (DEM) Fanuel Chiwowa described trends of demanding money from pupils as serious anomalies in the basic education system.
He said: “Primary education is free in Malawi. Therefore, no pupil will be asked to pay directly or indirectly towards his or her education.”
During the meeting, stakeholders condemned tendencies by schools to demand money from pupils.
Malawi Government introduced free primary education in 1994 to increase access to education by all children.
ActionAid funded the survey which was conducted in 17 primary schools in Kawena, Unyolo and Kanjuchi educational zones, in Traditional Authority Khosolo.