Govt hailed on students’ upkeep allowance

Govt hailed on students’ upkeep allowance

Stakeholders in the education sector have commended the government for effecting a 60 percent adjustment in upkeep allowance for students enrolled in public institutions of higher learning from K350 000 to K560 000.

In an interview, Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka said the adjustment aligns with the pressing needs of young Malawians pursuing higher education in the country amidst a faltering economy.

He said: “However, we urge the government to prioritise the recovery of loans from previous beneficiaries of the scheme to ensure adequate resources for current needs,” he said.

Kajoloweka further urged Parliament to review the Higher Education Students Loan and Grants Board Act of 2015 to extend loan accessibility to diploma students and other marginalised groups.

This, he said, would foster inclusivity in higher education financing, ensuring that a wider demographic can access financial support for their educational pursuits.

In a separate interview, Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe said the decision stands to benefit students nationwide, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, by granting them improved access to crucial resources such as food, accommodation, and study materials.

He said: “Ultimately, this enhancement has the potential to elevate their academic performance and overall well-being.

“We, therefore, encourage the recipient students to embrace this generous provision responsibly, viewing it as a catalyst for advancing their education.”

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Simplex Chithyola Banda announced the 60 percent adjustment in upkeep allowance for students in Parliament on March 26 2024, saying the decision is part of the government’s initiative to promote inclusion and accessibility of loans.

The minister said the government has allocated K25 billion to student allowances, of which K24 billion is a budget allocation and K1 billion is expected from student loan recoveries, following a directive from President Lazarus Chakwera.

In separate statements, both Malawi University of Science and Technology and University of Malawi student representative councils thanked government for reviewing the upkeep allowances.

On February 13 2024, the students from all six public universities in the country held a roundtable discussion with the President at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where, among others, they raised concern over the low upkeep allowance.

The upkeep allowance was last revised in 2021 from K200 000 when students demanded that it be adjusted to K550 000, but the Ministry of Education rejected the proposal, citing lack of funds.

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