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Government under fire over fees

By Macdonald Thom:

Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has said the government was supposed to consult widely before making a decision to abolish some fees in secondary schools.

While stating that the development may be in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number Four, Csec Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe, argued that the government was supposed to take into consideration what happened in the 1990s when free primary education was introduced to the country.

“We are concerned with the manner [in which] this decision has been made because we know for sure it is a decision that has been made hastily; it has not been thought through in terms of what is it that we need as a country in order to implement free secondary education.

“We are worried because we know for sure that this decision will affect standards in secondary education. As a country, as stakeholders, we should have sat down and planned around it because we know the far-reaching consequences that unplanned implementation of free primary education brought to this country,” Kondowe said.

At a press conference held in Lilongwe Tuesday, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Msaka, announced that tuition fees, pegged at K500, had been abolished with immediate effect.

He also announced that, effective January 1 2019 secondary school learners would not be paying K500 and K250 for General Purpose Fund (GPF) and Textbook Revolving Fund (TRF), respectively.

GPF and tuition fees were being paid per term and TRF once per academic year.

“With regard to all community day secondary schools, this is all the fees that the government was required to collect from students and the government has waived all the fees. Therefore, with the removal of these fees, the government will not collect any monetary contributions from students,” Msaka said.

He, however, said learners would continue paying examination fees to Malawi National Examinations Board and boarding fees.

Msaka also said, depending on projects particular schools would like to implement, learners would be required to make some contributions in line with guidelines set by the ministry.

Meanwhile, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi, has said the government already put in place measures of cushioning the reform.

“We have already found ways of cushioning what has happened. And you should also know that there are some funds that we use to support the needy in schools. Such funds will automatically be used for that purpose,” Saidi said.

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