Parents in Karonga to hold demo against primary school fees

Communities in Malawi’s Northern border district of Karonga are threatening to hold demonstrations if ministry of education authorities failed to halt the tendency of some primary schools teachers who force school children to pay money or a tin of rice in exchange for examinations.

The concerned parents which are from the northern part of Karonga in Group Village Headman Mwagwera Traditional Authority Kilupula in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu, said that the conduct by primary schools in their area threatens the future of their children.

Concered parents and school children in a group photo
Concered parents and school children in a group photo
Kondowe: Issue not from ministry
Kondowe: Issue not from ministry

Hesco Mtonga one of the concerned parents told Nyasa Times that children are forced to pay a maximum of K1, 000.00 to write examinations.

“All what we know is that, in Malawi Primary School Education is for free but  all schools in Mwetete zone here in Karonga force children to pay money  ranging from  K1 000, K700, K600 depending  on the classes. Those who fail to pay miss classes,” said Mtonga.

He said the situation go out of control when the learners are about to write examination as they are not allowed to do so. This forces a child to be repeating in the same class for long if the parents keep on filing to pay the money.

“For instance this week many children did not attend classes but they are supposed to start writing examinations next week. I have more than five children beside that I take care of some children of my late relatives how will I manage to pay such a mount of money?” asked Mtonga.

Shumie Milazi concurred with Mtonga saying if the children fail to pay money, they are told to pay five kilograms  of rice in exchange of their examinations.

“It is better that the government should just tell us that now primary schools are not free as it was before and they should give us one figure for a child, in that way we will put it on plan as school fees for our children.”

He said head teachers in various schools including Mwajasi, Kakoma, Lusako, and Kasisi have told that it is a government’s directive to let schools children to pay for classes.

“We need full details if government really  authorized that and we should paying for primary school,  failing to do that, all parents here plan to hold demonstrations  because this is not fair,” worried Milazi.

Felix Mwamusako a learner at Kakoma primary school said he has been sent back twice because he did not pay the money which he said was school fees.

“My parents cannot afford to give me money and sometimes I miss classes,” he said.

Commenting on the matter Malawi Carer a human rights organization Coordinator in Karonga, Felix Katemula, said the conduct violates children’s rights to Education and Government need to look into the matter as soon as possible.

“We have been going to see the District Education Manager here but he always say he is busy to comment on the matter. His deputy referred us to one of the head teacher where this is happening but the head teacher also referred us to the DEM so we really need an explanation on where the money is going,” said Katemula.

The District Education Manager Scorch Kondowe has denied that the issue is not from the headquarters as parents were claiming.

“In the first place it is not true that the ministry has said schools should ask pupils to give money but what we know is that there is some agreement at zone level with the parents of the pupils on how to run their schools and if the parents were not informed on why schools want the money then it is unfortunate” said Kondowe.

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