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Activists call for Chanco re-opening

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

The University Council shut the college following violence that erupted as students demonstrated against the proposed fees hike.

In a statement released on Monday, the 82-member education alliance faults the Council for the decision, arguing it should have been the last resort after all other alternatives prove futile.

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Reads the statement: “The indefinite closures that colleges, especially Chancellor College, 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.

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 have also added voice in condemning police for abusing some innocent students who needed the officers’ protection even more.

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Earlier last week, a video clip went viral on social media depicting two police officers, clad in uniform, slapping helpless female students, while another showed some physically challenged students struggling to keep away from the tear gas.

As of last week, Inspector General of Police, Lexter Kachama, said he was yet to watch the video in order to determine the next cause of action against the officers as demanded by the public.

But President Peter Mutharika in a statement released yesterday faulted unprofessional conduct by the officers in the video and has since asked Kachama to investigate the incident.

On the proposed upward fees adjustment in Unima colleges, Csec and others recommend a reasonable hike, saying the current proposed figures are unreasonable and a deliberate ploy by government to further push the poor to the margin of misery.

“Graduates in Malawi earn on average K210,000.00 per month at entry point. It is, therefore, undebatable that most people in the formal employment are struggling every day, hence the inability for them to raise K1.4 million per annum on the part of mature entry student,” the statement adds.

The activists further punch holes in a recently released statement by the University Council which they say sounds too vague in demonstrating that the current provisions are adequate to cover for all needy students on the verge of withdrawing should the fees hike be effected.

But the statement also condemns the students for destruction of property and obstruction of other people’s errands in Zomba during the protests.

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