SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: July 05, 2012

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):University of Malawi

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Malawi

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

Students at the University of Malawi sued the university for damages (approximately US $212,000) allegedly incurred during an eight-month labor strike by lecturers. The strike was initiated in opposition to what lecturers saw as the government’s interference with academic freedom, following Professor Blessings Chinsinga’s questioning by police for using a political example in a lecture.
In its defense, the university accused the lecturers of engaging in an illegal strike and blamed the police authorities for sparking off the row by detaining Dr. Chinsinga. In addition, according to some reports, the university named the Lecturers Union and the attorney general as third party defendants in the lawsuit, arguing that the lecturers and police were responsible for any damages that the students had incurred. Following a threat of further action by the Lecturers Union, however, the university allegedly withdrew its third party action. 
Following the protests, the Lecturers Union called on the government to sack the university council and management, stating that they had lost confidence in the institution’s leadership.
UPDATE: This is an update to an earlier report. To view, please click here.