CSEC calls for decolonization of education financing

Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has urged authorities in Malawi to decolonize education financing by, among others, rejecting austerity measures negatively affecting “proper investment” in education.

The coalition, comprising 82 organizations, says conditions for accessing loans and aid—imposed by Bretton Woods institutions and other donor partners—discourage increased spending to essential public services, including education, thereby troubling the sector.

Partners at the press briefing

CSEC Board Chairperson, Dr. Limbani Nsapato, made the sentiments on Wednesday in Lilongwe during a press briefing the coalition jointly held with its partners as part of commemoration of the Global Action Week for Education (GAWE).

This year’s GAWE theme is: “Investing in a Just World: Decolonizing Education Financing Now”.

International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other international financial institutions and donor partners have set, among other conditions, that the public wage bill should not grow beyond 7.5 percent of the GDP.

But Nsapato said there is need for removal of existing austerity measures, recommendations and obstacles such as public sector wage constraints to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“Such measures mean government, for instance, cannot recruit more public servants, including professional teachers. It means teachers cannot be promoted, given new salaries and allowances.

“No wonder, the country is suffering because without teachers, we cannot have quality education. In fact, Malawi is among the poor performing countries in terms of quality of education”.

As a result, observed Nsapato, government should develop the capacity to generate enough resources domestically, because “too much dependence on donors is unsustainable”.

He said CSEC and its partners are writing the Ministry of Finance and IMF to inform them about the need to decolonize education financing.

“Government must take action to enhance domestic resource mobilization, especially growing tax to GDP ratio. Deal with corruption, debts and inefficiencies.

“Substantive tax reforms are needed to fairly increase the size of the overall government budget, resulting in increasing the education budget proportionately as well.

“Reviewing tax and royalty agreements in the corporate sector, particularly the natural resource sector. Closing loopholes enabling tax avoidance and evasion by the private sector, through which Malawi loses billions”.

Other proposed measures, according to CSEC, include: introducing an education levy, negotiating for debt cancellation or debt swap and engaging the diaspora. The coalition says such measures could enable government generate MK1.4 trillion additional revenue, which “is more than the money Malawi is paying to service her debts”.

CSEC and its partners say they have joined the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and all chapters around the world to highlight that there is an urgent need to demand decolonization of education financing.

They will be amplifying the voices of the educational communities, activists and social organizations and movements to ensure that governments and the international community consider the call.

The CSEC partners are: Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi (FAWEMA), ECD Coalition, Fount for Nations, Rays of Hope, Girls Activist Youth Organisation and Oxfam Malawi.

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