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Govt cautions human rights organisations

BY PATINCE LUNDA

At the height of protests in schools, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has cautioned human rights organisations to be sensitive when explaining human rights issues to learners.

Minister responsible, William Susuwele Banda, said students have a tender mind and can easily misunderstand a message if not properly disseminated and this can incite violence.

“There is need for extra caution when dealing with students. Information given to them should be well illustrated and when they talk about the human rights, they should also tell them how to exercise them,” he said.

However, the minister’s caution has drawn mixed reactions from some education rights activists.

Livingstonia Synod Church and Society Programme Executive Director, Moses Mkandawire, concurred with the minister saying there was need to teach students to be responsible when exercising their human rights.

“Every person is entitled to their rights but it is also important to be responsible enough. If you tramp on other people’s rights then that is not the way to enjoy your rights. Students have to be taught that human rights go hand-in-hand with responsibility,” he said.

But Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe, said human rights organisations should not be blamed for students’ misconduct in schools.

Kondowe said there was need for a multi-sectoral approach in mindset for students and the general public.

“ Non-governmental organisations should not be blamed but there is need for a collective approach in addressing this issue because it dates back to 1992 during the dawn of multiparty democracy. What was known was that people have now human rights. Since then the mindset has not changed much in that there is over-emphasis of human rights than talking about responsibility,” he said.

Recently, Thyolo, Blantyre and Lunzu secondary schools were closed due to vandalism of property by students who disagreed with the way some issues were handled at the learning institutions.

Mzuzu University nearly closed down when students demonstrated against management over registration and administration of examinations.

Last week, students at University of Malawi’s The Polytechnic rioted over security lapses at the institution’s hostels.

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