Malawi MPs opposes Education Bill: Call for more scrutiny

The majority of Parliamentarians on Monday voted against the Education Bill calling for further scrutiny.

Government brought in the Chamber the Education Bill which among other issues seeks for the introduction of free and compulsory primary education and an increased number of teachers to match the over increasing demand of primary education.

The Bill also advocates for the introduction of education councils that would regulate the education system of the country and further give councils the powers to run and manage schools within their vicinity.

Leader of the House for opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Dr. George Chaponda  said much as the House appreciated Government’s efforts to improve education standards, it was import that issues such as infrastructure development and provision of teacher and learning materials be seriously looked into.

Kaliati: Let the bill explain
Kaliati: Let the bill explain

Chaponda also said despite the fact that the number of pupils enrolling for primary education would increase, it was imperative for government to start by recruiting enough teachers who would support the demand for primary education.

“I would like to commend government for bringing in the bill and particularly for seeing it important that we have free and compulsory education in the primary schools. This is timely but I feel it is too early to table this bill in this house. Government has not done enough because to be honest we need an improvement in the way we provide education to our children.”

“We need to look at the infrastructure, the accessibility of the primary education and also measures for parents failing to send their children to school,” Dr. Chaponda explained calling for government to further scrutinize the bill before it is passed.

Steven Kamwendo, Member of Parliament for Ntcheu Bwanje North said by allowing the council run the schools it would simply kill the education standards. He said councils have failed to perform and adding another responsibility on them would only frustrate the education system.

“Mr. Speaker sir, the bill is very important but we are missing the point on how to implement it. How can we be giving the councils to run the schools if we say let us improve the quality of education being offered to our children?” asked Kamwendo while calling for a reverse on the matter.

Patricial Kaliati, MP for Mulanje West said education was the most important sector that could help in lifting the country from poverty to prosperity. She said if Malawi was to develop, there was need for serious investment in the education sector.

Kaliati said the education bill was good but it lacked implementation mechanisms that would support it once put into practice.

“Let the bill explain how we will deal with some of the challenges the education sector is currently facing,” she said.

Proff. Etta Banda, Parliamentarian for Nkhata-bay South supported the bill which she said would improve the efficiency of teachers since the sector will now have the education council which would among other things regulate the education system.

Banda said of the sectors, education was the only sector which did not have a council that would regulate the way education was being offered in the country.

She then supported the bill calling for other MPs to vehemently pass it.

Debate on the bill continues on Tuesday and it is expected that the Minister responsible, Eunice Kazembe would respond to the issues raised by the MPs.

Once passed, the bill will replace the 1962 Education Act.

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