MPs agree on school fees reduction


Tempers flared in Parliament Thursday over a motion by Salima Central MP, Felix Jumbe, which is urging government to postpone increase of school fees.

Recently, government announced that effective next term, fees for secondary schools will be adjusted upwards.

With government vehemently opposing, MPs from the opposition benches were in support of the motion. The matter later precipitated into chaos, forcing Second Deputy Speaker, Clement Chiwaya, to temporarily suspend the House for the business committee to discuss the issue.


When the House resumed, Speaker Richard Msowoya, who then took over from Chiwaya, said Business Committee members did not agree on the issue. The Speaker, using powers provided in the Standing Orders, ruled that the issue could be tabled in the House.

Despite some continued protests from the government benches, Jumbe eventually tabled the motion: “Considering that the majority, especially those in rural areas are facing economic hardships responding to poor macro-economic situation, the House should resolve that the school fees hike for both secondary and universities must be postponed until government endeavours to improve the income per capita of its people.”

The adjustment means that students in boarding secondary schools will be expected to pay K35,000 per term while those in day schools will be paying K10,000. This translates to K105,000 and K30,000, respectively, per academic year.


Students in national grant-aided schools will be expected to pay K65,000 boarding fees,  from K55,000. This means they will be paying K75,000 per term, translating to K225,000 per academic year.

Salima North West MP, Jessie Kabwila, said with the raising of the fees, the MPs are being bombarded with requests to sponsor some students.

“We have been inundated with requests to pay fees for some people. When we are in a crisis like this, let’s avoid things that will promote risky behaviour,” said Kabwila who started by indicating that there is a string link between fees hike and early marriages.

“Raising fees for people who are not able to get the money is asking them to do the impossible. That’s state-sponsored illiteracy,” she said.

Machinga East MP, Esther Jolobala, also faulted the increase.

“This is the most horrible Christmas package this government wants to give parents and guardians who are already feeling the pinch of the unbearable cost of living,” she said.

But government, through Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu, continued opposing the motion even after the motion had been tabled and seconded.

“It is clear, Honourable Speaker, that in terms of existing laws, the power to increase school fees or demand fees is given to an authority, other than this House. You look at the University [of Malawi] Act or the Mzuzu University Act. Under Section 10 of those Acts, it’s clear that the University Council is the one that is vested with authority to demand or to increase fees or do whatever they can to raise funds,” Tembenu said.

He added: “Are we saying by this resolution we are asking the University Councils to scrape that? Are we taking that power away from them? Let it be said that this is a lawless adventure. We are engaging in something that is outside our mandate. Even as lawmakers, what we want to talk about, must be within our authority. Sadly, I must say that this is outside our authority.”

Despite continued resistance from government, the MPs eventually passed the motion.

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