Education, Science and Technology Ministry officials failed to adequately respond to questions on the government’s current stand on whether it uses quota system when selecting students to public schools at all levels of the education sector.
The ministry failed to provide the adequate responses during an indaba which some civil society organisations organised under the banner of Quota Must Fall Movement in Mzuzu on Wednesday.
The goal of the indaba was to end the government’s alleged use of quota system when selecting students.
The pressure group has come out following the recent release of Primary School Leaving Certificate of Examination (PSLCE) examination results which some sections have faulted arguing that they were biased towards the Central and Southern regions.
A team of five directors led by Rodwell Mzonde, who is the ministry’s director of planning, was outright that the questions were overwhelming.
Mzonde could not come out clear on whether they used quota system in the contentious 2019 PSLCE examinations simply saying the data had to be analysed if the argument on the government’s use of quota system is to hold.
“I may not say yes it [quota system] was used because we are further to analyse the data. That is what will determine as to what extent quota system was used. Because I understand that if we say quota system, then we have to compare the number [of students selected] from the Southern, Central and Northern regions then we can tell or fault the system,” Mzonde said.
He admitted that in some cases, quota system is used when selection students to public universities.
According to the ministry, the figures that are availed are based on the country’s education divisions and not political regions.
Mzonde said the National Education Sector Plan which has components such as quota system phases out this year and the government would adopt another 10-year policy— Nation Education Sector Investment Plan which would incorporate views such as the ones the people from the Northern Region raised.
The stakeholders also faulted the three guidelines of merit, proximity and economic consideration which the government uses when selecting students to public schools as not favourable for the Northern Region.
Meanwhile, Anti-quota System Movement interim chairperson, Charles Kajoloweka, said they were not impressed with the responses from the ministry’s officials.
“Our expectation was and still remains that the government must fully account for its decision around this primary [school] selection. What we got here is an impression that the government is being dishonest and simply playing a crooked role in the whole engagement,” he said.