MZUZU (Maravi Post)—One of the country’s renowned civil society organizations, Youth and Society (YAS)—an organization which advocates for youth issues in the country has demanded that University of Malawi Council should bring down the hiked fees and that Chancellor College, which has been closed following demonstrations on the same, should be reopened immediately. The leading youth rights watchdog has warned that failure to do so would leave them with no option but to coordinate massive countrywide demonstrations on the same on 4th August, 2016.In a press statement signed by the organization’s Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka, the organization said that it has learnt with great shock the UNIMA fees stalemate and subsequent closure of Chancellor College.
YAS says that they found the decision to shut down the College most regrettable and a reflection of a mindset at the University office and Capital Hill that students can only listen to them.
“We consciously find students’ expression of discontent over the fees hike extremely genuine, patriotic and heroic at a time when the economy is severely anaemic and decrepit. The University Administration itself has expressed the same point of view in terms of rising costs of running the University.
“The students are justified to defend themselves and Malawian society at large against this insensitive and unjustified fees hike by the UNIMA Council. We therefore endorse the students’ position geared to jealously defend the Right to Education on behalf of all citizens. A wider perspective of these protestations seems to reveal a notion that these students see things beyond them. This is a patriotic stance worth applauding. The students are also sympathetic to other young Malawians capable of entering University, who are kept out by impediments such as fees hikes, apart from the demonic quota system,” reads the statement in part.
The Youth organization condemned in strongest terms the Government failure to amicably resolve the students’ grievances following the fees hike finding the action by the Government as “highly insensitive, development unconscious and unacceptable.”
The statement further says that the conduct “smacks of total leadership failure by both the University Council and the DPP administration under President Peter Mutharika.”
“At YAS, we are dismayed by the Government’s uncultured cheap actions in dealing with students’ grievances. For too long now, Government has used indefinite closure of institutions of higher learning as a tool of intimidation and suppression of citizen voices. This is utter rubbish to say the least. We wish to remind the government that the fees hike stalemate at UNIMA is not only a students’ issue, but a national development issue with deep public interest that needs redress,” goes the strongly worded press release.
YAS wonders why Unima council could not learn from Mzuzu University where a similar situation arose but the matter was settled amicably between the Administration and students.
Closure of Chancellor College
The statement has condemned in the strongest terms the closure of the campus saying that “it is not a solution, just like it was during the Academic Freedom standoff” and that “the economy in the land is anaemic and decrepit, and cannot support life, including fees hikes even if there could have been merit.”
YAS also argues that the fees hikes are further constraints to access to University education over and above the demonic Quota system.
It is against the above background that YAS is demanding the immediate re-opening of Chancellor College saying “government cannot continue to use closure of institutions of higher learning as a tool of intimidation and abdication of its responsibility.”
YAS also is demanding an immediate review of the hiked fees by the UNIMA Council and has finally called upon all Malawians of good will, civil society actors, and parents to “consciously join this noble fight against this rubbish fees hike with huge potential to stifle the right to education.”
“We wish to inform and assure Government and all Malawians that should government fail to satisfactorily address the UNIMA stalemate in time, we at YAS will on 4 August 2016 organize and coordinate a country wide mass civil action to hold government accountable on the same,” concludes the statement.