Members of Parliament (MPs), mostly from the opposition, took government to task on Tuesday to act with urgency and seriousness and open Chancellor College in eastern city of Zomba, a constituent of the University of Malawi (Unima).
The Unima council postponed opening the college on March 20, 2017 for the first semester of the 2016/2017 academic year following a strike by the academic staff aimed at forcing the council to resolve salary disparities among staff of similar grades in its four constituent colleges of Chanco, The Malawi Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing and the College of Medicine (CoM).
The Students Union of Chancellor College (SUCC) recently held demonstrations and petitioned President Peter Mutharika, who is also Unima chancellor , to consider re-opening Chanco.
And in Parliament, standing on ‘maytters of urgent public importance’ MP Elias Chakweraof Dowa Ngala (Malawi Congress Party – MCP) asked Minister of Education, Science and Technology Emmanuel Fabiano to explain to the House what his ministry is doing about the continued closure of Chanco.
Fabiano pushed the blame to the ministry of labour and manpower development, saying the college is failing to open because of a labour matter.
In their contributions, MPs blamed Ministry of Education that instead of tackling the problem, the ministry is abdicating its responsibilities ad s pushing the blame to another ministry.
Leader of the Opposition in Parlaiment Lazarous Chakwera described the failure to open institution of higher learning for a long time as a “national tragedy”.
“Mr Speaker Sir, we wish to point out that the continued closure of our universities is distressing not only to our youths, but even to the parents who cannot wait any longer to see their wards graduate and start contributing to the development of this country,” said Chakwera in his response to President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Addrtess.
“We note with amazement at the lukewarm approach Government has taken in most cases whenever there are disputes involving learners or lecturers in the tertiary institutions. This tendency makes us believe that this Government views university education as a luxury, which should not be the case for any country that seriously aspires to develop.
“We, therefore, strongly appeal to the Government and particularly the President himself to treat the issue of unnecessary closures of public universities as a national tragedy and move with speed to resolve it, open the universities, and ensure that they run uninterrupted academic calendars with guarantees of academic freedom,” Chakwera said.
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