Students from Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, have obtained a High Court injunction to keep the college and Chancellor College open after authorities announce they had been shut down following students’ continuing class-boycott, to force the authorities to increase their monthly upkeep allowances and also reduce tuition fees.
The students are demanding that their upkeep currently at K40 000 (about $100) each, be increased citing the rising cost of living which has seen their meals prices also adjusted upwards. They also want the University Council to reduce their tuition fees which is at K250 000 (about $625).
The Council of the University of Malawi has cited lack of financial resources meet the students’ demands.
The closure of the two colleges followed a day-long clash between Police and Chanco students on Thursday when the law-enforcers attempted to thwart the scholars who were on the move to petition District Commissioner and subsequent arrest of Students Union of Chancellor College president Israel Masiyano and six others identified as Wanangwa Kalua, Joseph Njala, Walter Chinangwa, Howard Manda, Otiela Mtema and a female student Kettie Bamunya. They have since been released on bail.
Poly Student Union president, Wakisa Simukonda confirmed they obtained the injunction to keep the instutions open.
“We have been granted a court relief and this means the colleges will not be shut down ,” Simukonda said.
Earlier, Deputy Chairperson of the UNIMA council Dr. Elizabeth Sibale said authorities closed the two colleges in a bid to resolve the students’ concerns.
But Simukonda in an interview challenged the closure of the college will not force the students to cool off their demands and vowed to continue with their pursuit until government passed their demands.
“ The council knows our demands are justified and the only way to sort out the issue is to accept and implement them,” said Simukonda.
Sibale said “There is no reason to keep students on campus when they are not attending classes, it’s a waste.”
Polytechnic students a fortnight ago petitioned their demands to President Joyce Banda who is Chancellor for University of Malawi and Chanco students wanted to do the same on Thursday when they ended up in a running battle with police who fired teargas at the scholars, arresting some in the process.
Meanwhile, human rights campaigners have criticized ‘heavy-handed’ Malawi Police officers who went to the offices and hostels of Chancellor College during student demonstrations.