Airtel and TNM have agreed to provide free internet for secondary school students to be able to access lessons.
The initiative is part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts to make sure students in the country are still learning following the closure of school and colleges due to the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Education William Susuwele-Banda launched the online learning initiative and signed a memorandum of understanding with mobile service provider TNM. Later on Tuesday, Banda also signed a memorandum of understanding with Airtel Malawi.
Speaking during the first event, Banda said 5.4 million children, youth and adults in the country, have not been attending schools or universities as a result of COVID-19 precautionary measures.
He thanked TNM for working with the Ministry Education to provide free access to online education content to students in order to access lessons.
“All students from Form 1-4, will be able to access lessons through the ministry’s website; www.education.gov.mw where the lessons have been uploaded at no data cost. The only determinant will be for you have either a TNM number, then you are good to go,” said Banda.
He added that his ministry is in the final stages of developing radio lessons through the Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) that will cover the primary school sector.
“These will be lessons that will bring the teacher directly interfacing with the learner through the radio programmes,” he said.
According to Banda, the ministry is developing television content as a way of reaching out to those who would prefer education content through television.
The ministry is also working with VSO International who will provide 10, 000 tablets starting with an initial 1,000 tablets that will be provided to primary school learners in rural areas complete with solar charging.
On learners that are in remote areas, Banda said print materials will be distributed directly to the students in their locations through their teachers.
He then urged other companies to support the initiative.
“We are sailing through an unprecedented situation in the education sector that my ministry is responding to the best of its capabilities with support from its partners – Let us work together,” he said.
He also encouraged parents and guardians to monitor and guide their children and dependants during this difficult period.
Banda noted that there will be no physical teacher to guide the students like it is in a classroom situation hence it is important that parents provide the necessary guidance to the students to make sure they are concentrating and paying attention to the lessons be it television, radio, online or print material.
He said: “The ministry is depending on you. Failure or success of these interventions depend on you. The future of this nation rests on your shoulders.”