Quota or equitable system as a campaign issue for Malawi 2019 polls

Vice-President Saulos Chilima who has taken the Quota system as a campaign issue has reignited a hot debate on the matter. Chilima is promising voters that if elected as President next year, he will abolish the Quota system for selecting students to institutions of higher learning which he has described as evil and satanic. Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has also said once elected into government, his government will abolish the system.

Vice President Saulosi Chilima and Leader of the opposition  Lazarous Chakwera have taken the Quota system as a campaign issue

The quota system was first introduced in 1987. Council of the University of Malawi (Unima) recommended that each district should have 10 guaranteed spaces in the university and the balance of the spaces should be shared amongst all the districts in proportion to their population sizes. It further determined that in cases where a given district fails to meet its quota, the unfilled spaces should be allocated to those districts in that district’s region which produced adequate numbers of academically qualified candidates.

In 1993, the High Court of Malawi ruled in a case involving Mhango and others v University Council of Malawi against basing university selection on district Quota other than on merit because it was discriminatory and of no solid foundation. But from the look of things, University Council was not happy with the ruling. That is why in 2007 it introduced what it termed the Equitable system for admission to public universities. Under the Equitable system, Council for Unima made a resolution which makes a distinction between students on full government scholarship and non-residential students. In essence, this was the re-introduction of the Quota system effective 2008.

The rationale for the policy shift was that selection to public universities had been disproportionate as fewer students were being selected to public universities from some districts than others. But Unima Senate determined that such a policy shift required time and thorough consultation.

The Council then noted that arguments for or against quota may have just been  impressionistic, and therefore, requested Centre for Education Research and Training (Cert) to conduct a comprehensive study to confirm or trash the impressions.

However, after 10 long years, Cert has not conducted the said study. Cert is an agency of the Malawi Government under Unima. It is, therefore, dependent on funding from Unima or government. For 10 years, Unima Council has not funded Cert to conduct the study. Was Unima Council sincere about Cert conducting the study?

In 2011, Unima Council wrote the Malawi Human Rights Commission that what “the University of Malawi is implementing at the moment is not what you erroneously referred to as Quota system of selection. The real Quota system is what was done from the 1987/88 academic year up to 1993/94 academic year when the High Court ruled that it was wrong for the Council of the University of Malawi to use a quota system of selection without consulting its Senate. However, in 2008, in keeping with the priorities set in its Strategic Plan, Council of the University of Malawi, resolved that it would employ an Equitable system of selecting first year students as part of widening access to higher education to benefit disadvantaged groups (Kondowe, 2018).

Following the establishment of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) which coordinates selection of students into public universities, one would think the agency would also have been interested to resolve this age-old issue. However since it was set up in 2013, NCHE has just been coordinating, so to speak, what it inherited from Unima or what it was mandated to do by government.

From the foregoing it is clear, Ministry of Education, Unima Council and NCHE have all not been interested in providing the funding to Cert to conduct the study to confirm or trash Quota or Equitable system for admitting students to public universities and colleges. All the three are complicit on this issue.

But this is a political issue which only political will, can resolve. Whether we call it Quota or Equitable system, the perception (in the absence of a comprehensive study that Cert was supposed to conduct) is that the system disadvantages students from one region—the North—more than others.

With the 2019 tripartite elections around the corner, this region is now votes. Chilima and Chakwera who are championing abolishing Quota or the Equitable system are likely to benefit from these votes. Elections are about creating the right perception among the electorates to give a candidate their votes.

To win an election your promises must resonate with the electorate more than other candidates. But whether Chilima or Chakwera, whoever gets elected, will indeed abolish Quota or Equitable system for selecting students into public universities is a different ball game

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Dimingu
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Dimingu

Ok tikukumvanitu koma

Tiko
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Tiko

Bolani ma region ena adzasiye kuuzira ana mayeso, komanso kulembana ntchito ndi cholinga cha domination.

Mswachi
Guest
Mswachi

How many spaces are in the Universities in Malawi? 10 spaces on average per district the remaining spaces on merit! Is this really discriminatory or inclusive? What’s the qualification for University selection in Malawi? Can a district fail to produce qualified candidates? I hear when a district do not have qualified individuals the spaces are offered on merit! Something is not adding up. Enafe ndife mbuli. Educate us properly please.

Hawk
Guest

The issue of quota system is not unique and particular to Malawi. Even here in Uganda, bigger institutions like the Makerere University applies the quota system when admitting students into the University. U can not level the playing field when assessing the academic performance index of students from different schools and regions. There are a lot of factors responsible for differences in performance which need to be controlled for. But because of savage politics of Malawi stupid politicians think they can lure electorates behind such policies

James
Guest
James

This is why Africa will remain poor. Why should we have quota when Malawi is one? Why should someone become worried if many students from Zomba are admitted to public universities in a particular year? Don’t think that quota can be justified because Uganda is using it. Have you visited developed countries in the west or east? Our friends do not discriminate each other based on one’s district of origin. Unless we become one people quota will yield nothing.

LEGO
Guest

We don’t want to know where you are,even some of us we are so abroad but we don’t want to disclose the where about of us.All we are contributing here is the way how things are being run in our Country.Someone who is at Malawi University with merit can not support this evil quota system but people like you who are at university because of money not on merit will support this.If i may ask you,do we have different syllabuses in these three regions or do they teach different subjects?

Charlie Hebdo
Guest
Charlie Hebdo

Malawians claim to be one, but what we practice does not support that claim. I believe this is the reason the North is advocating for federalism. If we have a bright student whether from Chitipa or Nsanje, is he not Malawian? Will he not contribute to the development of Malawi? Do we not have doctors, engineers, accountants, lawyers etc from different districts in Malawi serving people not from their home districts? Make a study of all district hospitals and see if they are served by people from that district. That bright student denied the opportunity to go to the university… Read more »

zikomakhani
Guest
zikomakhani

To be honest, any interested organisation which wants to abolish the quota system can carry out a desk study to come up with the required figures for any given academic year. All the necessary information is already in the public domain – the aggregate points entitling a candidate for selection to a public university, the performance of students by school (and hence district), and the selection lists to the public universities . It should therefore be possible to have figures showing how many deserving students for each district were left out. A dedicated officer should be able, within one week,… Read more »

Charlie Hebdo
Guest
Charlie Hebdo

Such data will only tell you why students from the North have low cut off points compared to other regions. The research should look into why these other regions fail to perform as good as the North and address those problems. For how long are these regions going to rely on quota? Will there be not a time when we will have to revert to merit selection of sudents into public universities? What will happen to the regions relying quota if the problems are not addressed?

Nexon Msiska ( Chankulukwenda as nick name)
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Nexon Msiska ( Chankulukwenda as nick name)

God has blessed a man and his wife with twins. Twin A according to the school report, his performance in school is very good, whereas the performance of twin B is below average. What should the parents of these two twins do to ensure their children excel in life?

zikomakhani
Guest
zikomakhani

So why don’t you give us the cut off points per district? This is not in the public domain. If the cut off points for Rumphi were 10 and those for Chikwawa were 25, we need to know. This information should assist to show how many students with how many points from each district were left out. We need data that shows everything. It is wrong to assume that any research done will be skewed in favour of the South and Center. In fact, my suggestion was that NORTHERN based organisations which will be hosting the conference should be the… Read more »

Unoka
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Unoka

Call it Quota or equitable system, the bottom line is the concept is evil, satanic, regionalistic, and retrogressive. How can a government embrace a system that allow less capable or dull students to pursue higher education and leave intellegent and deserving ones on the basis of the district where one comes from? I find this policy upside down.

Zandiwawa
Guest
Zandiwawa

Atumbuka mumauzilana mayeso sikuti ndinu anzeru .Ifeso tiyamba zimenenzi .you are not intelligent at all .we are working with ignorant Tumbukas here .they are many here in the centre .what you should know is this that we will share the Universities ,you will take Mzuni as your university and Mombera which will be built soon.The rest will be ours so that you should be going Mzuni without problem because money for running these are tax payers money not Tumbukas money of which every one contributes

Braveheart
Guest
Braveheart

if you have evidence kuti atumbuka amauzilana osakanena ku police bwanji? nde mayesowo amauzilana maka ku university mpaka ku school? anthu ngati inu ndi amene mumayambitsa sankho mudziko. Tumbuka or no Tumbuka we are all malawian and decisions must not be made depending on tribe no

Mike
Guest

It is not a secret that Tumbukas cheat. I have a friend who went to study in the North. Very dull but he got selected to study at Balaka Secondary School. He told me the truth kuti mayeso analemba usiku. The same applies to Secondary School. Osamapusitsana apa. Palibe mtundu wamzelu kuposa wina.

chataika
Guest
chataika

Ndale za makanda ndi zimenezi. You think by advocating for abolishment of quota system would make you win elections hooodo mwauponda that is cheap politics. Check that south and central are quiet on this issue yet its where large voters are and you by going with what few voters in the north i.e. 1.7 million would put u in office; awa ndiye maloto a chumba ndithu. Tiye nazoni za makandanu. kkkkkkkkkkkkk

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