Civil Society Platform for Constructive Dialogue would like has applauded President Peter Mutharika and the University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) for “amicably reaching a compromise” on the University of Malawi (UNIMA) fee hike, saying President’s order for a K50 000 reduction in fees in public universities eventually brings to an end an warranted saga on the same.
President Mutharika, who is chancellor of Unima and three other public universities, directed Treasury to provide K1 billion to the Unima Council to meet the shortfall the ordered fees reduction will cause in the running of Unima’s four constituent colleges of Chanco, the Polytechnic, College of Medicine (CoM) and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN).
Mutharika announced the decisions during a closed-door meeting with Unima Students Union (Umsu) leaders at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Thursday.
In a statement which was issued through government’s information ministry, the Platform through its charman Maxwell Matwere said it was proud with the level of maturity the UMSU leadership has taken steps to conclude the issue.
“ By accepting the compromise, the Government and UMSU leadership has demonstrated that their action was based on finding a better solution for tertiary education in Malawi,” said Matewere.
Mutharika also directing the reopening of Chancellor College (Chanco) in Zomba which was prematurely closed two weeks ago following riots after armed police officers invaded the campus apparently to quell protests over the fees hike that had just been announced.
Students protested the increase in their financial contribution from K55 000/K275 000 to a minimum of K400 000 and wanted it lowered to K320 000.
The Platform also commended the order for re-opening of the Chancellor College and pray that there will be no further disturbances on the same issue.
“We deplore the insinuations that other quarters are saying that the compromise by UMSU maybe as a result that they have been coerced or otherwise. The Platform having engaged with part of UMSU came to understand the level of intelligences and leadership that exists within UMSU and any suggestion to question their ability to handle the negotiations is an insult to the well capable team that is entrusted by the whole student’s body,” said the statement by the Platform.
The Platform has also called for all the cases that the arrested students from Chanco, Poly and Kamuzu College of Nursing be dropped or accelerated so that their academic pursuance should not be affected.
On the call by Mutharika that “truly needy” students should have access to education loans through the Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board and that employed mature entry students, mainly at CoM—where the fees is much higher—should also be considered for the loans, the Platform called for the board to ensure that mechanism are in place and that n deserving students drops out of university as a result of failure to pay fees.
Platform all upon the entire nation and student’s body of UNIMA to commend the UMSU leadership and the Presidency for the dialogue which has led to a win-win situation.
“The Platform believes that Malawi can develop and move forward if we adopt contact and dialogue as means of dealing with disputes and compromise as the only way forward,” said the statement.
The Unima Council is now expected to embrace the presidential directives and chart the way forward, including the dates for the reopening of Chanco.
Malawi has four public universities, namely, Unima, Mzuzu University (Mzuni), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must).
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