Re-introduce primary school fees – Evangelical Association of Malawi

Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM)  in a presentation at a 2013/14 pre-budget consultation meeting in Mzuzu on Wednesday, asked the government to re-introduce school fees in primary schools as one way of  meeting the cost of improving the quality of primary education.

Malawi introduced free primary education in 1994 at the dawn of multiparty, a development which saw unprecedented increase in enrolment.

EAM Commissioner for Ethics, Justice and Peace the Reverend Major Makuni Gondwe made the proposal in his presentation at the second 2013/14 pre-budget held at Mzuzu Hotel.

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Treasury officials are seeking input from a cross-section of individuals, the private sector and development partners to incorporate their views in the forthcoming budget.

Mwalwanda: President the meeting in Mzuzu
Mwalwanda: Chaired the meeting in Mzuzu

But in Mzuzu, Deputy Minister of Finance Dr Cornelious Mwalwanda presided over the half day long deliberations which drew members of the business community, academia, statutory bodies, government departments and the media.

Reverend Gondwe also called for the re-introduction of the Malawi College of Distant Education (MCDE) centers, saying teachers in community day secondary schools have created parallel classes there by compromising the quality of education.

EAM said it believes in the important role the church plays in the socio-economic development of the country and commended government for opening the policy window for participation of faith leaders in the budget processes.

“The Ministry of Finance should consider innovative ways of collecting budget input using web based technologies like Facebook, Twitter and other similar communication tools. This will attract active youth participation in the budget consultations,” Reverend Gondwe said.

The religious body also urged government to make the 2013/14 a production-oriented that should encourage more investments and discourage consumerism.

“More funds should therefore be allocated to the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and Economic Recovery Plan. The recommendation for focusing more on production is based on the current challenges of never ending forex shortages where the Malawi government has not been able to mobilize the three months import cover, a standard requirement worldwide,” Gondwe said.

Justice Link, Action aid and Women’s forum in their presentation asked government to allocate more resources to the Judiciary especially at lower levels, saying that is the army that handles more than 80 percent of the cases but is allocated less than 3 percent of the total judiciary allocation.

“More than 90 percent of the total allocation is spent at headquarters. So we ask the government to devolve resource allocation to the magistrate courts so that they operate efficiently,” they said.

But Mwalwanda said while he appreciates the concerns of the NGOs, his ministry cannot dictate how the Judiciary uses its allocation saying it’s a matter of how it prioritizes its resources.

He however commended the stakeholder for coming up with the proposals saying government always values their input.

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