President Joyce Banda who is also the chancellor of University of Malawi (Unima) has pledged to resolve students’ grievances on upkeep allowances and high school fees and has since set-up a special committee to look into the matter.
The formation of the committee followed a series of protests students from Mzuzu University, Polytechnic College and Lilongwe Technical College had a week ago, demanding an increment on their monthly meal and upkeep allowances as well as reduction in school fees.
The students are demanding a monthly upkeep allowance increase from K40, 000 to around K65,000 per student, arguing the current allocation is not keeping pace with the economic situation Malawi is experiencing.
President Banda, who met with the University Council and the Management of the Universities of Malawi on Friday, said the set-up of the committee will help in, among other issues, address challenges affecting students accessing higher education in the country.
According to a statement posted on her Facebook page, President Banda said she is committed to address the students’ grievances as raised by the Students’ Union of Universities of Malawi, which include transportation, high fees for parallel programs, university infrastructure, accommodation and student meal and upkeep allowances.
“As someone who is passionate about educational development of our children, I consider the above issues as very important if our young people are to have a great experience at the Universities of Malawi.
“Hence, I President Dr Joyce Banda has responded by putting together a committee with immediate effect to look into ways of resolving these issues that have been brought to my attention as a matter of urgency,” reads the statement.
President Banda then disclosed that the World Bank and the African Development Bank were discussing with the University of Malawi on how to support the tertiary institution with quality learning resources in addition to what is available.
“Education is a key to unlock someone’s potential; therefore I can assure you that my government will continue to work in partnership with our higher learning institutions to ensure students’ needs are being addressed adequately”.
Banda has since requested former university students to pay back student’ loans which in turn could be used to support other students access university education.
And in an interview, Polytechnic, Unima’s constituent college, student union president, Wakisa Simukonda confirmed being communicated about the President’s meeting with Unima council.
“We have been communicated whatever transpired and we hope as students our grievances will be addressed soon. Meanwhile we are still discussing with authorities on our raised concerns and whatever the outcome might be, will determine our next action,” Simukonda said.
A week ago, students from Mzuzu University, Polytechnic College and Lilongwe Technical College clashed with police when started protesting over their upkeep allowances and high school fees.
Meanwhile, each Unima student gets a monthly meal and upkeep allowance of K40,000. Parallel Programme students currently pay K250, 000 per year.