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Students give government 14-day ultimatum

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Parliament was on Thursday under siege as union leaders of students from public universities in the country converged outside the House, demanding a raise of funds allocated for loans and grants.

The group marched to Parliament donning black and red colours where they presented a petition under the heavy escort of uniformed and armed police officers.

The union leaders have since given government 14 days to increase funding to Higher Education Students’ loans and grants from K1.5 billion to K3 billion or face more protests.

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In an interview with The Daily Times after presenting the petition, president of Kamuzu College of Nursing Students Union, Peter Mvuma, said some students have just been given fees only but not stipend.

“The Malawi Polytechnic with a population of about 3,000 students only 96 have been allocated upkeep allowances; Chancellor College with a population of 4,500, only 90 students have been allocated stipend. The number of beneficiaries is very small compared to the situation on the ground at the colleges. We have just received the names of the beneficiaries without being notified of the date on which the loans will be disbursed to individual applicants,” said Mvuma.

He, therefore, recommended that the student leadership should be consulted and involved to allow the board appreciate some of the issues affecting the learners.

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The group is also demanding for a review of the Higher Education Students Grants and Loans Board Act to provide a section where the role of students unions should be clearly stated.

Speaking after receiving the petition on behalf of the Speaker, Deputy Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Education, Agnes Nyalonje, hailed the leadership of the students for displaying maturity by demonstrating peacefully.

Said Nyalonje: “I also want to acknowledge that, as leaders, you have made sure that this far no property has been damaged. I would like to appeal to you to continue exercising this good leadership.”

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