Malawi: Govt Given Ultimatum On Reopening Malawi College of Health Sciences

2 August 2019

Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) and other education advocate have given government up to next Friday to reopen the Malawi College of Health Sciences it closed eight months ago or face action.

Education advocates address a news conference jointly held with the college's union leadership in Lilongwe

The institution has been closed since March 2019 following an industrial strike among workers at the college.

CSEC executive director Benedicto Kondowe, Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka, Young Politicians Union (YPU) c hairperson Clement Mukuwa and the college's student union president Iso Ken Bond jointly told the media in Lilongwe that the long silence from government shows total leadership failure in managing stalemate has resulted into the students losing almost a whole academic year.

"We question lack of interest from our Head of State to intervene in the situations after being petitioned for the past eight years. The students have tried their best reaching out to responsible stakeholders up to the presidency but nothing has materialized.

"We wonder why most of the times College of Health Sciences is always looked upon in almost every sector. Even funding has been problematic than other public learning institutions leading to some stakeholders coming in to assist not only the college but also students. What people don't know is that some of the students are bound to lose scholarships which in turn will affect their right to education," said Kondowe.

He added that the situation where lecturers are enjoying their benefits eight years running when the same is not reaching out to the students is questionable and tantamount to fraud.

"The loss to the students is so enormous and cannot be repaired," he said.

Taking his turn, Kajoloweka wondered why President Mutharika has been avoiding the issue during his public addresses despite having accolades such as Champion for Global Partnership for education, Co-convener for Global Commission on Financing Education, UNFPA Global Youth Champion, UN Women 'HEForShe' Champion and member of a Committee of Ten African Heads of State Championing the Advancement of Education, Science and Technology, appointed by the African Union in 2018.

"We quite well know that the lectures are okay because they are still getting what they always receive when teaching and they are using this time doing their private businesses and we know that the leadership is happy because it is not feeling the pain but we have to think about the students.

"As someone with so many accolades in championing education he was supposed to be exemplary because charity always begins at home. He should seriously start engaging stakeholders on this issue," he said.

Put to them that government has given the lecturers an ultimatum of 15 days to return to work or risk being fired, Kondowe said firing them is not a solution but prolonging the impasse because the issue will end up in court.

"This is an issue that need amicable settlement, threats will only prolong the problem which will in turn further affect the students," he said.

Bond disclosed that they are expected to hold talks with ministry of health officials next week Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to Kondowe, if they will not see students going back in class by next Friday, they will mobilise parents to engage President Mutharika on the matter.

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