Ministry of Education has directed that schools should not demand tuition or examination fees as form four candidates who are expected to re-sit this year’s Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations report back to school on December 28 2020.
President Lazarus Chakwera recently ordered that the examinations, which were cancelled after some papers leaked, should be re-administered before the end of January 2021.
A statement, which Education Ministry Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa signed Sunday, indicates that the no-fees principle applies to both public and private secondary schools.
In guidelines for the examinations, the ministry directs that no school shall demand fees from the students as examinations will be administered within one month from the day the students report for classes.
“The ministry is aware that, at the time of cancellation of examinations, form four students had not fully utilised their fees for term three which is [sic] normally paid in full. The ministry therefore directs that no school shall demand fees from the students as examinations will be administered within one month from the day the students report at school,” the guidelines read in part.
The ministry has further indicated that both examination fees and costs for practical examinations will be shouldered by the government; as such, no school shall demand fees for the same.
Meanwhile, newly selected form one students are scheduled to report for classes on February 1 2021, after MSCE candidates sit examinations.
According to the ministry, this is so to create space and avoid congestion in schools, in line with Covid-19 preventive measures.
Independent Schools Association of Malawi President Joseph Patel said, at a meeting they had with Ministry of Education officials, they agreed that, if candidates reported back to school before December 18, they would not pay anything.
“Beyond December 18 schools would be allowed to charge something from the students for accommodation and meals. We arrived at this [decision] because the schools are supposed to close on December 18 for the third term. Later than that would constitute another term and we would calculate the number of days the students will be in school,” Patel said.
Commenting on the same, Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said his organisation supported the move with a word of caution.
“The government should assume responsibility so that no student should incur expenses. I am mindful of the fact that some private schools have already started charging students in terms of additional costs for the time they will be in school. The government needs to properly monitor the situation,” Kondowe said.