Students demand reopening of colleges


University students in the country have demanded government to reopen colleges, saying coronavirus restrictions are not being followed as political parties including the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are conducting rallies.

The concerned students told Malawi24 on Tuesday they want school and colleges to reopen.

Government closed schools on 20 March due to the coronavirus pandemic. On April 2, Malawi recorded its first cases and now the number of registered cases is 63.

But despite restrictions on public gatherings, political leaders from the opposition and ruling parties are conducting mass rallies as they campaign ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

This has prompted a group called Concerned University Students to demand the opening of colleges, arguing that they are still being exposed to the coronavirus while at home as they are still allowed to move around to attend such rallies.

“As students we see no reason to continue staying at home because when we are trying to access essential services we get exposed to the virus just as we will be exposed to it when we go to school,” the students said.

They noted that government is encouraging online learning but this cannot be accessed by all students considering the costs of internet and enabling devices in the country.

The students said online learning can be used by students who do not want to go to school because they are afraid of contracting coronavirus.

“Amongst these students there are some who can afford online learning and we are appealing to the government and our learning institutions to allow them adopt the online learning method and those who can to afford online learning, we are asking the government to engage our institutions to reserve their places in their respective learning institutions,” the students said.

On preventive measures for students when the colleges reopen, the students said colleges should be compelled to place tapped buckets outside every classroom, library, laboratory or any structure that is used for learning to allow students and lecturers to wash hands.

They added that masks should also be provided to lecturers and students before classes.

“We cannot continue staying at home and wait for the day when coronavirus will disappear because we do not have any assurance that it will end any time soon. The government through the Ministry of Education should provide posters on Covid-19 to help in reminding students and the teaching staff in our various institutions to observe the coronavirus preventive measures,” the students said.

The concerned students then threatened to hold demonstrations if government fails to reopen school by the end of May.

Students in the grouping are from the University of Malawi (Chancellor college), Malawi College of Health Sciences, Mzuzu University, Nalikule College of Education and Blantyre International University (BIU).

On Saturday, the Ministry of Education said schools will only be reopened after approval from the Ministry of Health and the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19.