Malawi: Civil Society Demands Malawi Govt to Implement University Unbundling

27 January 2021

In a letter to Minister of Education and copied to President Lazarus Chakwera, Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has asked government to gazette and implement commencement of new universities to be born out of the 1965 University of Malawi.

The letter comes as hard pressure on President Chakwera who wanted to reverse the delinking of University colleges after Parliament passed three laws to create new universities.

According to CSEC, the new universities are already budgeted for in the 2020/21 national budget under the MCP government.

On 20 January, Council of the University of Malawi announced a freeze of the progressive move to create new universities.

But the decision has been quashed and trashed by academics and legal minds as retrogressive and counterproductive.

The decision has drawn critical fire and anger from the public universities and the general public who are hoping for university growth and increased space to accommodate many deserving Malawian youths who are failing to access university education.

Access to university education is projected to jump from 15 000 to 53 000 of total enroll by 2025. Many people are however puzzled as to why the Chakwera administration is fighting to frustrate such a progressive reform that gives more university education to more youths.

Alongside CSEC the umbrella body of the Association of Christian Educators in Malawi met and expressed fear that President Chakwera "will push many youths coming from families of poor Malawians deep into poverty" if his government blocks growth of the universities.

A tip from a member of ACME says they are also planning to write Chakwera.

Law professor Danwood Chirwa has written a comprehensive legal opinion accusing the 20 January decision as lawless and quashing the whole new move as illegal and retrogressive.

In their letter to Chakwera and his government, CSEC has described the attempt the progressive reforms as "arbitrary and unreasonable" because it lacks consultation and any sensible reasoning.

In the letter to Chakwera, Vice President Saulos Chilima who champions the reforms is quoted that "A decision was made to delink the Colleges. I have always said now and then that once we make decisions as a country we must implement them and move on."

The reform to delink the Colleges are create new universities was first recommended by a MIM report in 1997 and later recommended with emphasis by World Bank in 2016.

Former president Peter Mutharika showed political will and supported the university reforms which Chakwera's government wants to reverse.

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