Free Malawi secondary school education stirs debate

An education expert Benedicto Kondowe has described as disastrous government decision to abolish tuition fees in secondary school, saying the government has done this without thorough preparations, an argument which has been backed in an editorial comment of Malawi’s leading daily newspaper, The Nation.

Msaka (R) confers with his Principal Secretary Justin Saidi.-Photo by Stanely Makuti, Mana

Minister of Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka said on Tuesday that the government has abolished with immediate effect K1 500 tuition fee whilst K 500 general purpose fees and K250 book fees would be abolished in second term, in January.

But Kondowe said there was need for thorough consultation and preparation before the decision was implemented.

“The move has been made without thorough consultation. This will be like 1994 when education standards nose-dived because of such declarations,” he said.

He said the government should have provided enough resources in secondary schools first including teaching and learning materials before abolishing the fees.

The Nation newspaper editorial comment said the decision for fees abolition at public secondary schools hold merit but expressed the worry the manner  in which authorities  have rolled out the initiative.

“In making the announcement, the minister fell short if outlining a comprehensive policy framework for the decision,” the paper noted.

It said Msaka and his officials appeared not to have the slightest idea of how much this would cost government.

“We are worrying, broadly, about the lack of an in-depth analysis of the larger cost implications,” the paper commented.

It stated that the move will trigger sharp increases in secondary school enrolment and that government would have drawn lessons from the rushed job that was the Free Primary Education, especially how Capital Hill has failed to cope with numbers.

The paper has asked government to “invest a lot of thought in this process before it sends the country’s already suffocating education system into comma.”

Parliament’s Education committee chairman Elias Chakwera said in addition, the government could have waited for parliament budget session next year to ensure that everything is budgeted for, describing the whole move as political.

He said the decision to abolish the fees without proper planning would compromise the quality of education in secondary schools.

However, education policy analyst and advocate Limbani Nsapato said the fees abolition of is a step in the right direction because such payments pause a big challenge to poor families and hinder access to secondary education which is already limited with net enrolment ratio at only 15 %.

He wrote on Facebook: “I hope this will be sustained and most importantly will not lead to reduced financial resources for public secondary schools”

Nsapato added: “Sustaining it will also send strong voice to some critics who will be quick to point out this is a political gimmick ahead of elections next year. Bravo government!”

Government officials say the decision to abolish the K3 250 fees was reached at after the government signed an agreement with the US government to construct 256 secondary schools on condition that the fees are abolished.

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KPD
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KPD

KOMATU NDE ANA MMASUKULU AVUTIKA …CHIFUKWA NGATI PAKALI PANO BOMA LIMALEPHERA KUGULA ZAKUDYA ZOKWANIRA KULI BWANJI IKAKHALA YA ULERE? IYI NDI NJIRA IMODZI YOPAKIRA ANTHU PHULA MMASO. OSAYAMBA KUCHOTSA SCHOOL FUND MSUKULU ZA PRIMARY BWANJI? PAKALI PANO SITINGANENE KUTI MAPHUNZIRO A PRIMARY NDI AULERE POTENGERA NDALAMA ZOCHULUKA ZOMWE MAKOLO AKUPEREKA

BigMan
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BigMan

Mr Msaka the Nandolo tycoon, are you not ashamed?

#DzukaniAmalawi
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#DzukaniAmalawi

IMF will likely withdraw its K50b financial support putting pressure to the fiscus. The govt plans to cut the recurrent budget and the developmental projects budgetary allocations. Now we have the same govt making announcements about waiving fees for (public) secondary school students that will cost billions of Kwachas. For anyone to say that this decision isn’t political is stupidity of high magnitude. DPP-led govt doesn’t have a coherent suite of policies that can take Malawi forward. The only thing that they know is how to steal from the public purse. They have strategies upon strategies on how to loot… Read more »

Kassan Kaselema
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Kassan Kaselema

read last part of the above story: it was a condition from donors—– abolish secondary fees and we will build 256 secondary schools for you. deject from your analysis.
I wish you could say it in another way or don’t comment before you read the story. check for facts. above all most analysis are talking on conditions of perceptions.

#DzukaniAmalawi
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#DzukaniAmalawi

It’s funny that you say that Kassan. I would never ever comment on any issue at all without reading or having facts at my disposal. The agreement between Malawi Government and the US do neither mention the 256 secondary schools nor stipulate the abolishment of secondary school fees as a precondition. If you are a civil servant please access the agreement and you will probably understand where I am coming from. In any case, do you really believe that the US would commit to building 256 secondary schools (that’s almost 12 additional secondary schools in each district). Come on Kassan,… Read more »

Ambuje Kukaya
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Ambuje Kukaya

Would you please share part of that agreement?

Apumbwa
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Apumbwa

it does not matter who asked us to abolish secondary school fees, we need to make our own decisions that make sense, The questions you should be asking are:
1. Is this sustainable?
2. How will this affect the quality of secondary school education?

You dont just jump at everything donors tel us to do , we need to have balls

Bingu wa Mutharika
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Bingu wa Mutharika

Kodi a Tumbuka onse basi analengedwa kuti adzikhala a makani okonda kutsutsa zirizonse? A Kondowe mwatani kodi?

Achiswe
Guest

Either the figures quoted are incorrect, or someone can’t add up – MK1,500 + MK500 + MK250 does not equal MK3,250. In any case the move will be a disaster unless properly costed and funded. With all the other problems in the country it is surprising that this largesse can be afforded. Where is the money coming from? The idea of free secondary education for all is admirable, but can the country really afford it at this time.

Wanzeru
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Wanzeru

It just shows that government already subsidizes even before the abolishment. Do you think the cost of educating 1 student/per semester can be K3250. It is better they just make it free

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