Mutharika accepts to meet University of Malawi Students Union over fees impasse: CSOs wants Chanco reopened

By | August 2, 2016

President Peter Mutharika has granted an audience to University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) slated for Thursday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after the students delivered a letter seeking for an appointment.

The KCN students saying the fees hike must be brought down because they are too poor to afford it.

The KCN students saying the fees hike must be brought down because they are too poor to afford it.

The students delivered the letter to the Principal Administrator of OPC, Clement Phiri  in Lilongwe on Monday requesting to meet President  Mutharikawho is also chancellor of University of Malawi (Unima).

UMSU President, Tionge Sikwese, said after a meeting which was held by UMSU representatives and other public universities at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) campus in Lilongwe on 30 July, resolved to seek  for an audience with the President as they want to express  their feelings of dismay towards the fee hike proposed by UNIMA council and government.

Presidential Press SecretarY  Mgeme Kalilani said on Tuesday that President Mutharika has accepted the request to meet the students.

“The President has accepted to meet the students union leaders and it has since pleased him to grant them audience on 4th August 2016 at Kamuzu Palace at 1pm,” Kalilani said in a news statement,

Chancellor College (Chanco), Polytechnic and KCN students have all held demonstrations protesting to the new fee hike saying the fee hike is too much and most students cannot afford.

UMSU, who also agree with a reasonable increase of fees if the hike is necessary have said those who pay K55 000 should pay not more than K100 000. Those paying K250 000 should pay K275 000, those who pay K275 should pay K280 000 and the new first years should pay K300 000.

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They continued to say mature students for KCN and College of Medicine should not have their fees hiked since they are already expensive and mature students for Polytechnic and Chanco should pay K400 000.

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has called for a prompt re-opening of the Chanco which was indefinitely closed three weeks ago, due to disagreements over fees hike.

Co-signed by board Chairperson for Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Robert Mkwezalamba, and Desmond Mhango of NGO Coalition for Child Rights (CCR), the education rights bodies  said the indefinite closures that colleges, especially Chanco, has had and continue to experience “ trigger a high degree of instability of the college and negatively affect the effectiveness of the institution.”

The statement warns that while the closure might sound plausible, it stands to violate the student’s rights to education which is provided for in Section 13 of the country’s Constitution, should it be unduly prolonged.

The CSOs have since recommended a “reasonable hike” of fees, saying the current proposed figures are “unreasonable” and a “deliberate ploy” by government to further push the poor to the margin of misery.