Minister of Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka has pledged that no deserving student from the Universities of Malawi will be dropped for failing to pay school fees.
Msaka made the remarks at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe when he was opening this year’s Association of Higher Education Financing Agencies (AAHEFA) conference that runs from Monday, September 24 to 26.
The minister said government is aware that higher education is expensive everywhere and indeed in Malawi and because of this background, government has increased funding to Loans Board from MK4 billion to MK8 billion.
He said it is a great honour and privilege for the people of Malawi to host this very strategic conference.
“I am delighted to note that this conference offers yet another opportune moment when you, our distinguished sons and daughters of Africa, who are charged with the responsibility of making sure that nobody fails to access higher education because of socio-economic challenges, are brought together in a unity of purpose,” Msaka said.
Msaka said through the gathering the African continent will gain a lot of dividends from its own human capital and its own strategies.
He pointed out that the relevance of higher education financing agencies need not be over emphasized as all countries appreciate that if they are to develop as a continent, higher education is very crucial.
“In fact, contemporary development theorists recognize the role of higher education in economic growth and development at all levels; be it global, continental, national, societal and even individual levels.
“This is the case because a well-developed and systematically integrated higher education serves as a catalyst to any development agenda.”
He said it is for this reason that the vision for the education sector in Malawi is to be a catalyst for socio-economic development and industrial growth.
However, in the context of fragile economies, most countries in the continent are facing increasing numbers of households that cannot finance higher education for their children or wards.
“Consequently, there is a rising need for governments to deliberately put in place financing mechanisms for students coming from such households. It is therefore paramount that higher education financing agencies in Africa must be established and must be properly financed so that no deserving student fails to access higher education because of lack of financial support.
“It is only then that we can ensure equitable access to higher education for all our youths. By ensuring equity in education, everyone is given an opportunity to realize their potential.”
Msaka then quoted former South Africa President, late Nelson Mandela as saying; “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor; that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine; that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation.”
He said it is a common knowledge that governments have played a key role in funding financing agencies and he gave an example that the Malawi Government remains the sole financier of the Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board.
“The Executive Director will agree with me that this year, the Board gave loans to almost every applicant after Government handsomely funded the Board. This has been the case because the State President of the Republic of Malawi, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, is committed to ensuring that the Board is well funded so that no student drops out of higher education due to financial challenges.
“While governments continue this noble task, it is high time that financing agencies themselves found mechanisms for financial self-sustenance.”
Over 150 delegates from 50 countries across the globe are expected to attend this conference which has been organised in conjuction with Malawi’s Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB).
Speaking at press conference in Lilongwe last Thursdayat HESLGB offices, Executive Director Chris Chisoni said the conference will cover wide range of topics such as fostering international cooperation, strategic alliances among like-minded organizations and also bringing together policy makers.
Chisoni said the conference will also discuss pitching exchequer for increased funding to higher educationfunding agencies.
“African universities must rethink of new financing models to stay afloat,” Chisoni had said. “We will discuss on the use of trust funds like GET Fund of Ghana in funding Higher Education Agencies as well as changing the discourse on private higher education.”
“The conference seeks to continue efforts to develop and implement sustainable solutions meant to improve student financial aid system across Africa as well as sharing experience and innovative approaches meant to expand alternative funding for higher education loan agencies and universities,” Chisoni said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :