The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has warned schools to desist from demanding full fees for third term from learners who are about to write the 2021 national examination.

The warning follows report that some schools especially private schools have threatened to withhold examination identity cards for standard 8 learners who are about to sit for the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) scheduled for next week.

This is so despite that the learners will be in class for two weeks only.

In a statement made available to faceofmalawi signed by CFTC Acting Excutive Director Apoche Itimu says the body has launched an investigation into the reports.

“The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (herein “the Commission”) has noted with concern that some schools, mostly private schools are demanding that parents and guardians of Standard 8 students who will be sitting for the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) should pay full fees for the third term for the students. This is regardless of the fact that the period that the students will be at school before the commencement of their examinations in early September is less than two weeks. Some schools have even threatened to withhold access to the student’s MANEB Examination Identity Cards should the full school fees not be paid, which would result in the students not being able to sit for the exams.

“The Commission has commenced investigations against some of these schools for engaging in unconscionable conduct. It should be noted that, under Section 43(1)(g) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act (CFTA), business enterprises are prohibited from engaging in unconscionable conduct in carrying out trade in goods or services,” reads in part the statement.

Added the statement: “The Commission, hereby issues a warning to the schools that are engaging in the conduct of withholding MANEB Examination IDs, or making any threats to that effect, to categorically refrain from that conduct. Engaging in conduct that is likely to affect the student’s access to the examinations, or in any way likely to affect their preparations for the examinations, whether physically or emotionally, likely amounts to unconscionable conduct. This does not only infringe on the student’s rights as consumers, but also affects their general right to education. On the part of school fees, the Commission would call upon the schools to engage in effective dialogue with the parents and guardians and reach an amicable resolution with regard to the amount of fees to be paid, bearing in mind that the students will only use the school facilities for less than half of the term.

“The Commission hereby also calls on the parents and general public affected by these malpractices to report to the Commission any acts of unfair conducts that they or their wards may have been or are being subjected to in this regard.”

Standard 8 learners are expected to start writing their examinations from Tuesday next week.

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