The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of Karonga Diocese says the newly introduced Constituency Development Fund (CDF) bursary scheme guidelines will negatively affect promotion of equitable education.
Speaking on Wednesday after a two-day meeting with community leaders from traditional authorities (T/As) Mwakaboko and Wasambo in Karonga District, CCJP Fighting Inequalities project coordinator Tuntufye Simwimba said the involvement of members of Parliament in identifying beneficiaries is not good.
He said a snap survey conducted in Chitipa, Karonga, Dowa and Ntchisi districts established that the guidelines defeat the meaning of decentralisation.
“The 10 percent CDF bursary scheme came to replace the National Aids Commission [NAC] bursary. There are a number of grey areas that need to be addressed such as the sidelining of district councils and the selection criteria that might leave out befitting beneficiaries,” said Simwimba.
He also faulted the reduction of bursary from 10 to five percent as retrogressive.
“We expected that after increasing CDF allocation from K40 million to K100 million, the bursary would increase too to reach out to more beneficiaries,” said Simwimba.
Karonga district social welfare officer Atupele Mwalweni said the identification of beneficiaries is done at local level, with her office just verifying and authorising payment.
“Right now, we have more than 100 learners that were left out in the 2021/22 financial year due to limited funds,” she said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Parliamentary Committee on Community and Social Welfare chairperson Savel Kafwafwa said the cut to five percent was due to rising school fees.
“The best solution is to increase other funds such as Ministry of Education bursaries through the Social Welfare Office,” he said.