Malawi Police teargas students: Lilongwe Teachers College closed

Lilongwe Teachers Training College has closed indefinitely following wrangles between the students and management over monthly field allowances which culminated into a hunger strike.

The students, under the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programme, were pressing management to pay them their alleged four-month unpaid allowances but to no avail.

Tired with the authorities’ slow-motion on the matter, the phase four students begun a hunger strike on Monday to force college management to act on their grievances.

They claimed they resorted to the hunger strike after exhausting all peaceful means including sending verbal and written petitions to the college principal who never bothered to resolve the matter.

Teargased

Teargased

And as they say, a hungry person is an angry person, on Tuesday, the students conducted demonstrations to show their frustration.

The protests resulted in the students blocking the busy Kanengo-Area 25 road thus disrupting normal flow of traffic.

Nearby law enforcers from Kanengo Police Station rushed to the scene to restore law and order but as the mood became volatile, police ordered the aggressive students to pack up their belongings and leave the campus within 30 minutes.

However, some students have accused certain police officers for taking advantage of the fracas to steal money from them in the name of restoring order.

The students who contacted Nyasa Times disclosed that even before the expiry of the 30-minute ultimatum some overzealous police officers started firing teargas at students thereby creating a commotion.

“We were ordered to vacate the campus within 30 minutes but before that period expired some armed police officers invaded the campus firing teargas purposelessly.

“We panicked and some police officers started chasing and whipping whoever they found while their colleagues searched our pockets and snatched money,” alleged a Blantyre based student who claimed the law enforcers seized about K2 000 from her.

While confirming the occurrence of the fracas, Kanengo Police Spokesperson, Ester Mkwanda, rubbished the theft claims and police brutality saying police resorted to firing teargas because the students became too aggressive.

Ministry of Education Spokesperson was not available for her comment as her phone kept calling without being attended to.

This is the second teachers college in few weeks to shut down due to disagreements between students and management after Kasungu TTC.

Meanwhile, education activist, Benedicto Kondowe, has expressed worry with the development saying it was a recipe for education plunge in the country.

He said the closure of the two teachers colleges will negatively affect the quality of local education standards which are already dwindling.

“These are very bad developments because they imply that government is failing to use other possible means of resolving such issues which are leading to closure of the institutions.

“And as stakeholders, we are worried with these trends because at the end of the day they will have huge implications on the delivery of education in the country. And one thing is clear that there is lack of clear policy direction to manage education in the country,” noted Kondowe, who is the Executive Director of Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSCQBE).

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