Citizen Alliance, a civil society organisation (CSO) working in the governance sector, has asked President Peter Mutharika to resolve the on-going crisis in public universities where some deserving students are withdrawing due to lack of tuition fees.
The call comes following a report in our sister newspaper Weekend Nation that half of the students selected to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) have dropped out due to lack of tuition fees.
Earlier this week, The Nation also reported that about 300 needy students at the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), risked dropping out of college until the institution’s alumni and students union organised a fundraising dinner where they raised K89 million from the corporate world.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, Citizen Alliance chairperson Edward Chileka said the President should intervene and order recapitalisation of the students’ loan scheme to accommodate more needy students.
He said: “With the increasing dropout rate among students in public universities and colleges, the country risks to lose out on a generation of young people who could help with nation building.”
Chileka said the dropouts are mostly students from ultra-poor background families, a trend to threatens to derail attempts to fight inequalities in education as well as reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology [MoEST] chief director (Higher Education) Charles Msosa said in an interview yesterday the matter was of concern to government as well.
He called for innovative ideas within the universities to ensure that needy students are benefiting from both official and private initiatives to ensure they remain in the institutions.
Msosa said: “We will intensify the collection of [outstanding] money from former students who received loans so that we can use the money to give it to other students who desperately need it. We also appreciate efforts such as the fundraising done by students in the universities to rescue each other.”
National Council of Higher Education (Nche) chief executive officer Matilda Munthali conceded in an interview that there was a need for engagement over the matter.
Government last year reviewed the law to overhaul the university loan system to ensure that more public universities benefit from loans, but fresh problems have emerged with many needy students failing to qualify.
Malawi has four functional public universities, namely (Unima), (Luanar), Mzuzu University (Mzuni) and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must). n