By Innocencia Chikuse
As national demonstrations are all over the major cities of the country over lack of leadership in the Tonse Alliance, the leadership crisis seems to be spreading like a pandemic to other agents of the government, in this case, the University of Malawi, as students are staging massive vigils which have started today, effectively putting all academic business to a standstill.
“The bone of contention is an academic calendar. The University management in their wisdom released an academic calendar to the effect that we will be having one semester in one year instead of two semesters per year. Having one semester per year means that the students will be taking 8 years to complete a four-year degree programme and the students can’t imagine that. The students feel this is unreasonable and outrageous and they want the calendar to change,” said Humble Bondo, President of the University of Malawi Students body in a live lunch bulletin interview with Timveni Radio.
In a memo to the administration released by the student body which has gone viral on social media, the students narrated that they had an emergency assembly at the Great Hall yesterday where the general membership of the student body called the University of Malawi Students Association resolved to go for an indefinite vigil, which will be called off until management changes the calendar.
“…We write to communicate that the general membership of the UNIMASA resolved that we go for a vigil effective tomorrow morning which will be called off when the retrogressive, outrageous, repugnant, and unreasonable current academic calendar which management so insensitively and indifferently imposed on us is amended,” reads the letter in part.
Concludes the letter:
“Students are on a daily basis being haunted by the horrible prospect of being subjected to a five or six-months holiday effectively doing one semester in one academic year. They wonder, which proper university does that? Their voice was unequivocal, their resolve unanimous and as their leaders, their word which is hereby conveyed to you is our final and binding command.”
Meanwhile, the students are playing all manner of games at the main library quadrangle, singing and dancing and they have blocked the road from the Academic Freedom Arc such that no vehicles save for motorcyclists are having access to the institution. The police having bombarded the students with teargas in the last demonstration appear to have learnt their lessons allowing the students, who are not violent or breaking any property, to proceed with the vigils until the school authorities resolve this long overdue issue.
Meanwhile, the university management is still burying its head in the sand like an ostrich, not knowing what to do to resolve the impasse.
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