A group of civil society organisations calling itself Civil Society Platform for Constructive Dialogue (CS-PCD) has called upon politicians in the country not to politicise the issue of proposed UNIMA fees hike as a way of achieving their political ambitions.
Addressing members of the press in Lilongwe, Chairperson of the group Maxwell Matewere said the matter has been politicised by both government and the opposition.
“We are compelled to agree with sentiments raised by one of Malawi’s prominent religious leaders Reverend Levi Nyondo of the Livingstonia synod that politicians have hijacked the issues of university fees hike.
“There has been misinformation without merit and objectivity on the matter which has bordered on political sentiments,” he said.
Matewere said the group is aware that some politicians have camped in Zomba galvanizing students for or against the proposed vigil.
Undule Mwakasungura who is also a member of the group said while the group sympathizes with the students in raising their concerns about the fees hike, the students ought to be objective by weighing all factors that ought to be considered in handling the matter.
“The students have to be objective, there is a need to raise alternative in their arguments rather than wishing that they would want to continue with the current unsustainable fees.
The group pointed out that they feel the argument to continue with the current fees was a non starter saying Malawi already ranks lowest in university fees in Africa.
“For public universities in Malawi to highly compete with other universities in Africa, there is need to raise the standards of the same. In order to educate a student in Malawi, tuition would cost K1, 108,000.00 per student and one would note that even the current proposed fee structure is already highly subsidised,” said Mwakasungura.
He said it was sad to note that the majority of the students that are worried about the fees hike in public universities come from private secondary schools like Kamuzu Academy where they used to pay about 1.2 million kwacha per term for their education.
Mwakasungura wondered why such students would want to pay less fees when they go to public universities.
“If we are concerned about the quality of students and education standards in our universities to be higher and at the same time we want our universities to compete with top universities in Africa, we also need to pay higher for the same,” said Mwakasungura.
Another member Fryson Chodzi said Malawians ought to know that while the fees hike has been proposed, government has put in place safeguards to guarantee maximum right to education through the higher education students loans and grants board so that needy students have access to the loans for their education.
“It should be noted that the spirit of reform is that there should be cost sharing in education between the government and the students. The current proposed fees hike already puts government to share a larger burden of the cost of education.
“The UNIMA students ought to be aware that the tax payers will not be happy to continue financing the education of the students if they continuously display such disruptive and politically behaviours,” said Chodzi.
He however, called upon the University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) to use dialogue as the best resort for resolving the current impasse than the vigil they want to hold.
Chodzi said the civil society organisations were willing to facilitate dialogue negotiations between the two parties which might bring a compromise.
The current fees for all public colleges in Malawi is at 275,000 kwacha and the proposed fees by the university council are 570,000 kwacha for chancellor college, 610,000 kwacha for polytechnic and Kamuzu college of nursing and 760,000 kwacha for college of medicine.
However, government approved 400,000 kwacha for Chancellor College, 450,000 for Kamuzu College of Nursing and Polytechnic and 500, 000 kwacha for College of Medicine.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :