Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators on Tuesday vehemently protested government decision to raise fees in secondary schools, saying this would hurt the poor in the harsh economic times.
Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera then told deputy speaker Clement Chiwaya that the opposition would not ask questions to the minister of Education Emmanuel Fabiano who presented a ministerial statement on the secondary school fees hike and abolishment of Junior Certificate Examination.
However, Leader of the House Francis Kasaila said it was surprising that the MCP was protesting fees in schools, saying when the party was in power, poor Malawians struggled to pay school fees from primary school.
“Malawians were paying school fees when they were poor during the MCP rule, they were paying the fees when they were extremely poor. These are facts although you may not wish to hear this.
“We were paying school fees although we were not rich, we are not rich now but the government wants to improve the quality of education, that is the concern of all well meaning Malawians,” said Kasaila.
In his ministerial statement, Fabiano said the fees were last hiked in 2000 when boarding fees were hiked to K1500, general purpose fund was at K500, tuition fees was at K500, text book revolving fund was at K250 and different schools charged different fees for development fund which he said in most cases, was not used for the intended purpose.
Fabiano said there were huge disparities in fees as school fees in national secondary school which is now at K25000 per term, district boarding schools fees were at K35000, government aided schools were charging K55000 and community day students were paying K65000.
He said in some schools, students were paying K5000 for development fund, saying the new arrangement has avoided the disparities and discrepancies and harmonised all fees instead.
Fabiano said the government is still subsidising each student, saying the government is subsidising K480000 per student annually in national secondary school, K136000 per student in a year in district boarding secondary schools, K150 000 per student in a year in day secondary schools and K88 000 per year in community day secondary schools.
He said the new fees will improve the teaching and learning process.
“If this is not done, the quality of education shall continue to decline and it will not be possile to reverse in future,” he said.
Fabiano said the government is aware that the new fees will put pressure on parents and guardians but said the government has put aside K480m as bursary money for the poor.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :