The University of Malawi Students Union (Umsu) has justified its decision to storm out of a meeting meant to address issues surrounding closure and re-opening of The Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima).
The Polytechnic has been closed for six months due to disagreements over appropriate fees. Unima Council hiked fees in universities under it last year, indicating that the decision would come into effect in the 2016/2017 academic year.
In a statement released on January 16, Umsu Secretary General Dalitso Dulani describes the meeting, which was held at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, as a “connived one”.
“The meeting was a connived one. They invited the so called parents from the cities. Their representation as well as the criteria used to identify such parents is highly questionable. The constitutionality surrounding their grouping is beyond doubt not within the legal framework of the Republic of Malawi. The question is. how did the sea of thousands of parents across the nation turn into less than 15 parents without a formal selection criteria? That leaves a lot more [sic] to be desired,” the statement reads in part.
Umsu also accuses The Polytechnic management of inviting five students without the knowledge of the Polytechnic Students Union and Umsu. It also faults organisers of the meeting for encouraging participants to disregard a recent court order which backed students’ argument that The Polytechnic cannot be affected by fee hike since the college is in the 2015/2016 academic year due to calendar disruptions.
“After Umsu leadership noticed that University Management had set a good foundation to advance their agenda, Umsu decided to withdraw from the meeting and organised a press briefing to tell the nation what had happened in that convened meeting,” Umsu says in the statement.
It then accused Unima Council of ill-treating The Polytechnic.
“Umsu understands very well that The Polytechnic is going for 2015/2016 academic year and that since all this started Chanco [Chancellor College] as well has been in the same academic year that The Polytechnic is in and now it is about to start the year which fees is meant for 2016/2017. Hence it is only The Polytechnic that is being treated unfairly and Umsu will not watch that happen,” Umsu says.
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