Synod, CSOs in anti-quota demos

Organisers of demonstrations against equity-based university-selection system have said they will hold protests in the North on Thursday and Friday to force government to abolish the system.

Coordinator of the movement Charles Kajoloweka, who is also executive director of Youth and Society (YAS), said they resolved to hold protests across the region because they feel some students in the Northern Region are being denied their constitutional right to education.

Kajoloweka: We are not relenting

He said: “We are set for the demos and we are not relenting. We are holding these demonstrations to demand that government should abolish the quota system. We are also challenging the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) results that government should re-do the selection.”

Kajoloweka claimed that no student in the Northern Region has been selected to any Southern and Central region secondary school, while many students from the two regions have been given places in Northern Region secondary schools.

This, according to him, is a discriminatory selection process that needs to be stopped, since many deserving students from the Northern Region have been left at the expense of learners from other regions.

The Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has since thrown its weight behind the demonstrations.

Livingstonia Synod moderator the Reverend Douglas Chipofya said his church will be part of the demonstrations because deserving students are being denied secondary school places in favour of students with poorer results.

However, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Justin Saidi is on record as having said the equity-based quota system is the best system for selecting students into public schools, as opposed to the merit system which CSOs want.

Meanwhile, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe expressed worry that government is not finding a lasting solution to the quota system impasse.

He said the system is not being implemented within the constitutional prescriptions outlawing any form of discrimination.

Said Kondowe: “The quota system is not new in the country. It was there in 1987 but it was abolished in the 1990s. It was then re-introduced, but unfortunately, that was done without any empirical evidence

to show that the quota system is needed. Government and the public should arrive at a consensus on this.”

The demonstrations, which will take place in all Northern Region districts, apart from Likoma Island, are organised by leaders of civil society organisations operating under the banner Quota Must Fall Movement with support from the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP).

People in Chitipa, Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhata Bay and Mzuzu will hold demonstrations on Thursday, while THOSE FROM Rumphi have arranged to stage the protests on Friday because Thursday is their market day.

These protests follow recent demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition to force the Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for presiding over flawed presidential elections. The protests have in some cases been marred by looting and violence.

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