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Independent schools take Maneb to task over lost revenue

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Tension is mounting between the Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) and the Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb) following revelations that the Board issued two contradicting statements that led to massive loss of revenue by the private institutions.

The first statement issued by Maneb Deputy Director Jack Chalimba on April 27, 2015 addressed to all candidates, District Education Managers (Dem), Secretary of Education and Isama said the Board would not condone students that did not finish paying their school fees to sit examinations.

“Please note that Maneb will not take sides with candidates who do not finish paying fees to their schools,” reads part of the circular.

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However, a subsequent newspaper story on May 29 2015 quoted Maneb spokesperson Simeon Maganga condemning school owners who were barring students with outstanding fees balances from sitting examinations.

“To set the record straight, Maneb does not condone misbehaviour in schools. However, we are living in an age where human rights are respected, hence the need to tread carefully before making decisions based on emotions,” reads the article.

But speaking at a meeting of directors of private schools on Friday in Lilongwe, Isama chairperson Joseph Patel said the association resorted to ask Maneb to withdraw statement made by its spokesperson or risk being taken to court.

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He disclosed that the private school directors feel deceived by Maneb after the Board disowned their spokesperson’s sentiments on the matter.

“We have two contradicting messages from one Board which is playing a blame game at the expense of our revenue to run our schools.

“As an association and after consultations, we will write Maneb to rescind statements by their PRO [Public Relations Officer] in the newspaper where it appeared failing which we will file a case against them,” Patel said.

During the meeting, the directors observed that it was shameful for Maneb to distance itself from their officer who is mandated to give out the Board’s information after thorough consultations.

Patel further said some private school directors have since opted to close their institutions as most students deliberately failed to settle their fees balances due to the PRO’s statement.

“We will be suing Maneb because Mr. Maganga is entrusted to give out information after consulting his bosses. So, they cannot disown him at this moment. His statements reflect the Board’s stand,” Patel said.

But when contacted, Maganga refused to comment on the allegations.

However, according to Patel, Maneb has since asked the association to provide the list of all students with outstanding fees balances to ensure that the Board does not release their results and certificates.

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