She’s intelligent and hardworking, but she’s on the verge of dropping out of University because she’s so poor and cannot afford to pay her tuition and does not have an upkeep to maintain herself.
Her name is Loshilie Phiri and she is currently a second year student at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Development Economics. But her academic journey is wobbling and keeps on meandering. In fact, she risks being withdrawn on financial grounds.
She does not know her next meal. She begs food from other female students on campus just to keep her digestion system afloat.
Her sad tale speaks volumes of the glaring gaps between the rich and the poor, as measured by Gini-coefficient, according to development economics.
Generally, economists and governance experts agree that income inequalities erode social cohesion in a society and that the inequalities are also a potential source of conflict between the have and have nots [the rich and the poor] if not managed properly.
The Gini-coefficient refers to the way money is distributed across a nation, state, or whatever geographic region in question.
If a country has a Gini-coefficient of zero, it means that the country has perfect equality in terms of the distribution of wealth among its citizens while the opposite holds true if a country’s Gini-coefficient is positive one, which means the country has too much inequality such that the national income is shared by only a few elites.
According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), by the year 2020, the country’s Gini-Coefficient had moved from 38.0 percent, based on the Integrated Household Survey (IHS3) conducted in 2010/11 to 41.4 percent, based on the IHS4 conducted in 2016/17.
On one hand, the World Bank puts Malawi’s Gini Coefficient at 46.1 as of 2019, signaling the continued widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.
Nyasa Times got wind of her estranged life through various multiple sources and we made an effort to talk to her and zoom in on her miserable life.
The brainy slender student kept on sobbing throughout the interview.
“I come from a very poor family and I am failing to raise the tuition fees required for my continued education.
“By the end of this Semester my tuition fees arrears will amount to K600,000 and I am yet to settle my rental arrears amounting to K75,000,” said Phiri, as tears snaked down from her eyes to the cheeks, soaking her not-so-good looking blouse.
She added: “Most of the times I go to class on an empty stomach because of luck of funds for my upkeep and this grossly affects my studies.
“I may be prevented from writing the end of semester exams which start in a weeks’ time if I don’t settle the arrears on my tuition fee account and I am already contemplating withdrawing from university,” said the young lady who only has a single parent, the mother.
The mother is also struggling to fend for her family back home in Karonga.
She does not work but relies on unsustainable piece-works within her vicinity.
“I am appealing to well-wishers who may assist me to raise the money above to rescue me from my dire situation.
“Well-wishers can contact me on 0994 760 068 or can make deposits directly into the University Bank Account, which I can give on request,” she said.
Loshilie Phiri’s story sounds so familiar and is a commonplace in Malawi where a lot of young people especially the girl-children are dropping out of school due to due financial difficulties.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Malawi Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary Habiba Osman said:
“Education is a fundamental human right and allowing the youth drop out of school because of poverty is out of order and criminal.
“As a country, we should be ashamed that in 2021 our intelligent and hard-working children are forced out of school because they are poor. This is really sad.
Osman said government should intervene and make sure she or any other student does not drop out of university because of school fees.
In a separate interview Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence said the government should take up her matter and help her with her needs so she can complete her studies.
“The future of our country belongs to the educated youth and if we don’t provide a conducive environment in our education system, we will have a doomed future.
“We appeal to the University she goes to, the government and the private sector to bail her out and let her carry on with her studies,” said Trapence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :