Students from two constituent colleges of university of Malawi, Chancellor and Polytechnic have disapproved government announcement of abolishment of students allowances that will now be taken care of through students loan scheme.
The abolished student allowance follows the Higher Education Students Loan Bill that was passed in parliament this year February and was approved as an act by president Peter Mutharika.
Last Friday, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe announced in parliament when he presented the 2015/16 national budget that student fees and stationery allowances have been abolished and will be taken care in the students loan scheme which encompasses all needs.
“Additionally Mr Speaker Sir, the 2015/16 financial year includes a net lending figure of K3 billion, this money has been set aside to capitalize the Higher Education Students Loan and Grant Scheme.
“Accordingly, I wish to inform the house that the government has resolved to abolish the payment of allowances to new students in public universities, and has created the scheme to enable deserving students to acquire loans and grants in support of their education” said Gondwe.
Reacting to the development Chancellor College Students Union President Frank Chadampamba described the development as ill-timed saying a lot of students will suffer.
“The arrangement is not good, to say they have abolished students allowances its not fair, that decision needed proper consultation with students and all stake holders involved, why introduce such an arrangement in a poor country like ours, this will affect students from poor families”, said Chidampamba.
He explained that the issue of loans depends on criteria as students have to fill forms and wait for approval adding “this also depends on whether resources are available for such loans, applying for a loan is not an assurance that you will access it, this will deny people chance to access tertiary education”.
Echoing Chidampamba’s sentiments Polytechnic Students Union President Juston Balaluwa accused government for rushing to change the system
Balaluwa said much as the proposal seem good but from the students side of it, the understanding is that students are not sure whether the loans will be enough to carter for all needy students in the country.
“We have fears on whether government will fulfil its mandate with loan cover for all needy students because there is no information on the matter as to when and who will specifically benefit.
“We prefer the old system not the new one because we don’t know what it entails, previously the old system was at K2 billion but was failing to carter for all needy students.
“The K2 billion was for school fees and stationary allowance and now they are saying school fees, stationary plus upkeep allowances in the scheme, I don’t think K3 billion can suffice to carter for all students in need out there”, said Balaluwa.
However, Gondwe told parliament that the Ministry of Education Science and Technology is at an advanced stage of operationalizing the new arrangement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :