The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Dr. Jessie Kabwira has said President Peter Mutharika must stop pussyfooting around and provide a lasting solution to differences that have erupted between University of Malawi (Unima) Council and students over fees hike.
University students have been holding demonstrations protesting against the fee hike.
In the new fees structure, Polytechnic College generic students will be paying K380 000 per annum, Chancellor College tuition fees has been pegged at K320 000, K500 000 for the College of Medicine and K340 000 for the Kamuzu College of Nursing.
Mature entry students are expected to be paying fees ranging from K900 000 to K1.4 million per annum in respective of the colleges they are studying.
Kabwira, a Member of Parliament for Salima North West Constituency and former lecture at Chancellor College in Zomba, has joined other quarters of the society including students, guardian and parents who are askingthe University of Malawi (Unima) council to immediately rescind its unpopular fees hike decision describing it as illegitimate as it is affecting the poor.
“This fee hike is illegitimate as it’s not appealing to most poor people’s social-economic status in the society. How many rural Malawians can afford MK400, 000 for their tertiary education? What we are saying, the increase is too much for the rural people,” said Kabwira after the launch of Marriage, Divorce and Relationship Act sensitization campaign in her constituency over the weekend.
She continued: “Without fear this fee hike must fall to accommodate all deserving and intelligent students.”
Kabwila said increase of the tuition fees is one of anti-poor policies of the Mutharika regime which are perpetuating early marriages in the country.
She said i nstead of creating inclusive policies, Mutharika’s “insensitive government thinks otherwise.”
Kabwira who is also SADC Parliamentary women caucus chairperson said the fee hike in public university was too heavy for the poor.
She observed that it was this type of policies which perpetuate early marriages as many children drop out of schools due to heavy burden of fees.
Kabwila stressed that Mutharika must stop procrastinating when it comes to education for all, saying government should stop blaming opposition parties of being behind university students’ demonstrations as students can make their own informed decisions to fight for their education rights.
“ This DPP government must stop questioning the legality of higher learning institutions,” said Kabwira.
The Malawi Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president Frank Mchupuka Msiska. who is also an executive member of the University of Malawi Student Union (Umsu) council highlighted that the issue at hand is pertinent and needs urgent attention from the president who is also the Chancellor of Unima.
Msiska said they are wondering why President Mutharika is muted “on this very important matter of national interest.
The students also accused Mutharika that hefailed to handle academic freedom spat in 2011 when he was minister of education.
But presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani arguedthat Mutharika is actively involved to find a lasting solution to this matter.
“As a Chancellor he has been engaged in discussions with MoEST [Ministry of Education, Science and Technology] and the University Council. It is his wish that the issue be resolved and that the academic calendar is not disturbed any further,” Kalilani said.
Meanwhile, Unima council has maintained its earlier decision of hiking the fees calling those students who cannot manage to afford the current fees to report to the authority.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :