Renowned education activist and Executive Director of Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Benedicto Kondowe has described the Equitable Access to Tertiary Education, also popularly known as Quota System, as one of the evils thwarting Malawi’s efforts to attain Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, saying the system segregates deserving students in Community Day Secondary Schools (CDSSs).
SDG 4 is one of the many SDGs that replaced Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2016, giving developing countries like Malawi a new direction for achieving crucial developmental targets by 2030.
It seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Nyasa Times understands that through the Equitable Access to Tertiary Education, each of the 28 districts in Malawi is guaranteed space for ten students in the country’s public universities.
The system was once implemented during the late dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s regime.
It was reintroduced by the administration of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who was accused of being another emerging dictator.
Kondowe joins the bandwagon of activists, church, civil society and political leaders who have been condemning the system, saying it is aimed at barring intelligent students from the Northern Region of Malawi from accessing university education.
However, the CSEC Executive Director has taken a different tone.
He accuses the system of favouring students in conventional and private secondary schools, leaving out scores in CDSSs.
Kondowe spoke on Friday in Lilongwe during a meeting organised by CSEC aimed at analysing education stakeholders efforts towards achieving SDG 4.
Said Kondowe, “This is not the type of Equitable Access to Tertiary Education we need. Our review of the 2017/2018 university selection shows that 43% of the students came from conventional secondary schools, 33% from private schools and 14% from CDSSs. These CDSSs constitute two thirds of the secondary schools in Malawi. Where is equity here? The poor are being sidelined”.
He suggested that government must revise the system to come up with targeted quota where a designated number of students from CDSSs must be taken on board to benefit as well.
Kondowe said it is sad to note that the ten spaces allocated per district at public universities are strictly reserved for students from conventional secondary schools.
“If we continue implementing the current quota system, then we have an education system which is not fair, a system which cannot help reduce abject poverty and economic inequalities in the country,” observed Kondowe.
The current Equitable Access to Tertiary Education policy has been a campaign tool for politicians ahead of general elections with most of them promising to end the system once voted into power which they have not fulfilled.
During CSEC’s Friday meeting, Teachers Union of Malawi and Development of Aid from People to People brought on the spotlight a lot more challenges that hinder efforts to attain SDG 4 in Malawi.
These included shortage of teachers, teaching and learning materials and infrastructure.
Kondowe said education stakeholders must continue working hard in corroboration with government to alleviate some of these problems so that Malawi achieves SDG 4.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :