School postponement an inconvenience

pupils in class

A number of institutions such as Private Schools Association of Malawi (Prisam), Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) and The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) have faulted government’s decision to postpone opening of schools in Lilongwe and Blantyre over rising cases of Cholera.

Prism Trustee, Hasting Moloko expressed dismay with the announcement by the Ministry of Health saying the playfield is not levelled as only schools in Lilongwe and Blantyre are the ones that have been targeted.

Moloko explained despite the postponement, the students who are expected to write examinations (Primary School Leaving Certificate, Junior Certificate of Education and Malawi School Certificate Education) in these two cities will be at a disadvantage.

The Trustee questioned why targeting primary and secondary schools only when tertiary education premises are opened in these cities adding there is no scientific evidence that students are much safer at home.

Prism has asked government to reopen the school citing other students had already left for their respective schools and this is an inconvenience.

There is also a situation of the teacher’s welfare as the postponement means they will have to wait to be paid.

Civil Society Coalition Board Chairperson, Limbani Nsapato said: “Yes, let’s save lives but decision making should be timely and should be coordinated across the Ministries. From the statements it’s clear there wasn’t good coordination and foresight on the reopening.

He also concurred the decision inconveniences parents, children and school owners at a time the economy is tight.

Nsapato called on government (MOE) to work out remedial plans to recover lost time, otherwise learners who are writing exams coming from Blantyre and Lilongwe will be disadvantaged.

Cholera update
Cholera figures as of 2nd January 2023

CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa said they felt vindicated that President Lazarus Chakwera has abdicated his constitutional powers, and that it is some unknown people running affairs of government.

“It’s chaos! Actually, nothing qualifies this as total chaos than hearing that bus-loads of students were forced to return to either Blantyre or Lilongwe after hearing the announcement.

“The suspension of opening of schools in just the two cities, which came late as though the country has no Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and cholera, is not only laughable but, also, a sign that there is a disconnect between what the task force and the President know about the cholera situation in the country.”

Namiwa said the figures have been speaking loud and clear that the situation was bad on the ground and that the decision to suspend opening of schools only in the two cities, where cholera figures are actually lower than those of some districts where schools will re-open tomorrow, begs more questions than answers.

“Not to think about how government intends to reconcile the school calendar whereby while some 2 students will be learning and others not learning, at the end of this term both will be required to sit the same exams.

Quality Education Advocate, Steve Sharra also questioned the timing of the postponement saying it is unfortunate for the parent as they will have to spend more to return their children home.

Sharra explained the country should have taken a leaf from the COVID-!9 situation in-terms of management and close monitoring.