The Malawi Ministry of Education says it has so far constructed 94 out of 383 low-cost classrooms as part of the COVID-19 response in the education sector.
In February this year, government through the presidential taskforce on COVID-19 allocated K5 billion to the ministry of education as part of Covid-19 response to procure 266 tents, construct 383 low-cost classrooms and drill 502 boreholes in schools.
According to the ministry’s spokesperson Chikondi Chimala, so far 268 boreholes have been drilled countrywide representing 53 percent while 94 low cost classrooms have been constructed countrywide representing 24.54 percent.
Chimala said 184 low cost classrooms are at finishing stage and says there are only nine schools where construction works is yet to commence while six shall wells has been drilled out of the required ten, representing 60 percent.
“I can confirm that the construction of low-cost classrooms and the drilling of boreholes is underway in most schools and reaching this far, the progress is quite impressive and we are so hopeful that the projects will be completed very soon.
“The ministry continues to implement a number of interventions in the fight against covid-19 as well as general education improvement projects,” said Chimala.
Malawi24’s visit to some schools in the southern region, revealed that in other schools the facilities are already in use a development which according to Veronica Nyaka Chief Education Officer for Zomba rural, has apparently reduced some of the COVID-19 burdens.
Nyaka said, so far, out of seven boreholes which were allocated for her area, six have been completed and are in use whereas 16 classrooms have been completed out of 17 classrooms thereby reducing the classroom learner ratio.
Concurring with Nyaka, was Rebecca Misili Chief Education Officer for Blantyre rural who said: “We are so grateful for the interventions. The boreholes and classroom blocks have already improved hygiene and reduced congestion respectively.”
Misili who was thankful to the government for the gesture, further said out of 12 boreholes which were allocated for Blantyre rural, four are already in use and out of the nine classrooms, they have since completed five classrooms with the rest in an advanced stage.
In an interview with Malawi24, Vanessa Boloweza, a standard 8 learner at Nachipele primary school in Thyolo, said the construction of a block which has two classrooms has seen learners who were for afternoon shift, learning in the morning.
Meanwhile, Jones Sitolo a deputy headteacher at Lauderdale primary school in Mulanje, has urged the Malawi government to proceed with this arrangement claiming more school blocks can be built under the initiative.
Sitolo said engaging contractors who claims more money yet their works are at par with these low-cost classrooms, is a wastage of government’s resources.
“A single class room block done by a contractor can cost government over K20 million but you can see these low-cost classrooms done by communities, is costing government just K8 million. So, we think if government can think of continuing with this arrangement regardless of COVID-19, more classrooms can be built,” said Banda.
Government was allocating K4.4 million for a single classroom block and K8.8m for a two-classroom block and communities were asked to contribute some other materials including: bricks, sand and water while a single borehole was costing K3.2 million.