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MCP smells favouritism in standard 8 examinations

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said it is shocked by revelations that secondary school selection in the just-released Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations favoured the Southern Region.

But Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has refused the accusation saying it applies merit-based selection policy to place students who sit PSLCE examinations into secondary school spaces available in the country.

Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Friday, MCP vice-president Muhammed Sidik Mia said the party has since called for the immediate suspension of the results and has demanded Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) and Ministry of Education to make public the selection criteria.

Mia also demanded that a commission of enquiry be instituted in the shortest period of time to enquire into what exactly transpired.

According to Mia, it is glaringly evident even to an unaided eye that quota system was used in the selection of learners into national secondary schools with one region taking a lion’s share of Form One spaces in national secondary schools.

Mia described the development as an act of injustice.

“If a national secondary school has learners from one or two regions, does it maintain the identity and flavour of being a national secondary school?

“If a selection system excludes one region or two, does that system promote unity or instead entrenches ethic and regional divisions?” Mia quizzed.

He said MCP condemns in strongest terms this form of social injustice saying, as a party, it believes in one Malawi where everyone is given an opportunity to prosper.

“MCP believes that toying with education and compromising education standards compromises the future development agenda and social cohesion of the country.

“As such, if the above demands are not met, we shall again ask Malawians to demand these from the oppressor,” Mia said.

But, in a statement released Friday, Ministry of Education says selection to national secondary schools is merit-based, adding that it is for candidates who score very high marks.

“Only candidates with high marks are eligible to go to national secondary school. So, when a region has exhausted its numbers of the super intelligent but still has spaces, the remaining spaces are given to students in the same cut-off point from other regions,” reads a statement signed by Secretary for Education Justin Saidi.

Out of 282,428 candidates who sat this year’s examination, 218,756 qualified for PSLCE with 82,072 selected to start Form One in various secondary schools.

The Link for Education Governance (Leg) Tuesday urged government to expand access to secondary education to increase the percentage of children accessing secondary schools.

Leg Executive Director Davemonie Sawasawa said in 2019 PSLCE examination results, the selection rate is at 37.5 percent, far below the 50 percent National Education Sector Plan policy target.

“Both Maneb and MoEST [Ministry of Education, Science and Technology] need to investigate and address the factors that have led to the decline, targeting the least performing districts and those that have registered higher rates of decline over the last year’s results,” Sawasawa said in a statement.

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