BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The High Court in Blantyre on Thursday granted an injunction to the Malawi Writers Union (MAWU) stopping the Ministry of Education and Malawi Institute of Education from removing the MSCE Syllabus a Chichewa collection of short stories containing a story allegedly defaming Catholics.
Government released a notice addressed to all education division managers and other stakeholders in the education sector notifying them that the book titled Kusintha Maganizo ndi Nkhani Zina has been withdrawn from the list of prescribed examinable texts.
“The book has been withdrawn because it contains a story titled ‘Mdalitso Wabodza’ which is immoral in nature and portrays a damaging image of the Catholic Church. The Ministry of Education views the story as being insensitive to the Catholic Church,” reads part of the communication.
According to court documents of Judicial Review case number 80 of 2017, Justice Jack Nriva granted the Injunction to Malawi Writers Union through private practice lawyer Kuleza Phokoso, pending Judicial review of the decision by the government to remove and ban the book from the syllabus.
The injunction restrains the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Malawi Institute of Education (MIE) from removing the book, “ Kusintha Maganizo ndi Nkhani Zina ” from the syllabus, let alone replacing it with any other book.
According to the court documents, Phokoso argued that the decision to remove the book was made without a lawful and procedural fair administrative process where their legitimate expectations are known, was made by wrong people and hence ultra-vires the Education Act and its regulations.
“It [the decision] was made in violation of rules of natural justice and through the abdication of MIE as the Ministry of Education does not have powers to remove, exclude, or include a book into the national curriculum and that the decision to remove the whole book from the syllabus because of one story was unreasonable in the Wensbury sense and improvisational,” argued the lawyer.
The court order means that the book remains on the syllabus, remains examinable and students will continue to use it.
MAWU is seeking orders quashing the decision of the Government through the ministry of education to remove the book from the MSCE syllabus, and the sum of
K320 million in compensation for the pecuniary losses they have suffered as a result of the decision.
Taxpayers are likely to cough the MK320 million in compensating the Union for the wrongful decision of the government.
According to MAWU, they bid for the inclusion of the book into the syllabus in January 2017 and were told to remove certain stories by MIE’s evaluators after a grueling 5 months page by page evaluation upon which it was approved in September 2017 to stay on the curriculum for a period of five years.
Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe, expressed concern that government did not conduct a good vetting process.
“When books have been written, there is that consultative process where the scripts are shared with stakeholders to ascertain if there are issues which need to be dealt with. I am of the view that government did not play its role well because it could have changed the words before the actual printing was done,” he said.