Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Justin Saidi has dismissed suggestions that government was moving towards introducing free secondary school education, saying the decision by his ministry to freeze the tuition fees for 2018/19 academic year was temporary.
The ministry ordered head teachers in public secondary schools not to receice or delay in receiving the school fees in its secondary schools open and that the they would issue another directive on the way forwards.
The directive has been viewed as a move by government to scarp off the tuition fees with education activists suggesting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration just want to score some political mileage ahead of May 2 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Activist and Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe said government decisions of eduction should not be driven by “political impulse” to win votes but on “moral responsibility and due commitment to improving quality of education.”
He said many schools are grappling with insufficient teaching and leanring materials.
But Saidi said the decision on tuition fees is temporary.
Students in public secondary schools pay K5000 per term as tuition fees. The money is deposited into the Malawi Government Account Number One.
Saidi said the instruction only applies to payments of tuition fees and does not apply to the collection and receipt of the other fees such as text book, revolving fund, general purpose fund or boarding fees where applicable.
Boarding fees range between K5 000 and K100 000.
Governance and rights activist Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that argued that already the country is failing to successfully manage primary education despite introducing free primary education with the burden to cover the deficits now transfered to parents under the so-called development funds and others.
“Politically, it is clear that this decision may have been made bythe DPP government in order to strengthen its chances of winning the 2019 Tripartite elections. It may hence be seen as one of those desperate attempts by the ruling party to outsmart its strong competitors in MCP and UTM in the election.
“However, the only problem with ‘politically-motivated’ policies is that they are often not sustainable, and they in the short or long term put huge burden on the tax-payer. In summary, its important that government addresses the shortfalls with the implementation of free primary education before extending such a policy to secondary school,” Munthali said.
In Africa, Ghana is already offering free secondary education which started under President Nana Akufo- Addo. In 2015 Gambia removed fees for all public primary and secondary schools, while in 2016 Tanzania removed lower secondary school fees.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :