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Government queried on quota system

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Government is deliberately trumping upon people’s right to education through continued implementation of the controversial equitable access to education policy for selecting students into public institutions of higher learning.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has since condemned the selection criteria as unfair since it denies deserving students their right to education apart from infringing upon international statutes that the country pledged to uphold.

Malawi Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Justin Dzonzi, has said government has been ignoring advice to replace the system.

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He said the system violates and does not meet requirements stipulated in people’s rights worldwide.

“We have been engaging government on a number of occasions on the issue of quota system. We have, during the meetings, categorically told government how selective the system is by going for people’s surnames during selection,” Dzonzi said.

CCAP Synod of Livingstonia’s Church and Society Executive Director, Moses Mkandawire, prompted Dzonzi’s response at a debate on Saturday, on the eve of the International Human Rights Day.

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Dzonzi wondered why MHRC remains quiet on the matter despite it being one of the many human rights violations the executive is infringing.

“People, particularly learners and parents cry when they come to complain in my office. It is disheartening to see a boy or a girl who amassed less than 10 points at Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations being left out of university selection because of where he or she comes from,” Mkandawire said.

Asked on how Malawi has performed on issues of rights, Dzonzi said Malawi has performed poorly, rating it at 20 percent mainly on economic, social and cultural rights.

“This is an area where Malawi is seriously struggling. The reason being, it requires a lot of investment to make the rights possible. The right to education, for example, requires infrastructure, teachers and teaching materials. If the government is unable to raise funds for that, then they are not going to happen,” Dzonzi said.

He, however, said Malawi has done very well on the civil and political rights considering the little investment needed as opposed to economic, social and cultural rights.

The National Council for Higher Education (Nche) has since June last year been using it to the dismay of educational experts.

Former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, introduced the system to make it possible for all districts in the country to send same number of students into the universities.

In the system, each district has an allocation of 10 students into the universities with the rest of the places competed for on the basis of merit.

Some students have, however, been beating the system through faking their district of origin and surnames taking advantage of districts where there is less competition.

Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Emmanuel Fabiano, was not available for comment when contacted yesterday.

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