Students Union Leaders from public universities in Malawi on Thursday afternoon delivered a petition to Parliament, demanding adequate funding for the newly established Higher Education Students Grants and Loan Board to enable it include more needy students to access to loans.
The Board’s national fiscal budget allocation is currently at K1.5 billion and has released names of beneficiaries.
However, Students Union Leadership says the number of beneficiaries is very small comparing to the situations on the ground at the colleges, left so many other deserving students so desperate for the help of the Malawi government for their education.
The petition which is only making three demands was presented to the Speaker through Vice Chairperson for the Education Committee of Parliament, MP Agnes Nyalonje.
When reading the petition, Davis Jiva, Secretary General for the Students Union at the University of Malawi’s The Polytechnic College said they want government to double the budget allocated to the Board so that a lot of needy students are able to access to the loan.
He also indicated that, due to inadequate funds at the Board, a good number of students on the list of beneficiaries have been underfunded.
“Some students have just been given fees only but lacking stipend (money for food and accommodation). Statistically, the Malawi Polytechnic with a population of about 3,000 only 96 have been allocated with up-keep allowance; Chancellor College with a population of 4,500, only 90 students have been allocated stipend,” he said
He continued: “For example, tuition fee at University of Malawi is K275 thousand, some students have been given K165 thousand as tuition fee. So the question is where would the needy student going to get the remaining money to pay for the tuition fee?”
Other two demands in their petition, the students wants to be consulted and involved to allow the Board to understand some of the in depth understanding of the students and that there should be a review of the Higher Education Students Grants and Loan Board Act to provide a section where the role of students unions should be clearly stated.
The petition also observe that the Board has released the names of the beneficiaries without seeking consultation and that there is no communication on the date to which loans will be disbursed to individual applicant a delay which is causing some students to be withdrawn from the colleges.
“For example, a student from LUANAR whose mother’s source of income is kachasu, withdrew from university because she could not meet costs for accommodation, meals and tuition,” reads the petition.
Students Union Leadership demands the National Assembly to work on their petition within two weeks so that needy students are not subjected to ‘no fees no registration’ policy.
Receiving, the petition Nyalonje promised to deliver the letter to Speaker and help the students on their grievance.
The Petition has jointly been signed by University of Malawi Students Union Council, Mzuzu University Students Representative Council, Lilongwe University Agriculture and Natural Resources Students Union and Malawi University of Science and Technology Students Union.
Government abolished stipends to all public universities and introduced Higher Education Students Loan and Grants Board where students can apply for the tuition, stationary and upkeep allowance.
However, the Board admitted that due to limited funding it will be difficult to consider all applicants for the Loans and Grants.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :