Govt faulted for causing confusion with extended school holiday

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Education experts say government is responsible for the confusion that has rocked the education sector following the two-week extended holiday for Blantyre and Lilongwe schools.

The expert has urged government to immediately clean the mess.

The matter started last week when the national taskforce on Covid-19 and Cholera delayed the reopening of Lilongwe and Blantyre schools by two weeks saying cases of cholera in the two cities have skyrocketed, a development which attracted public outcry.

Later, some schools in Lilongwe and Blantyre including Maranatha Academy resorted to relocating from the two affected cities in an attempt to escape the prolonged school closure.

However, Ministry of Education has through a Monday press statement signed by Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa, said the relocation is illegal on grounds that the ministry was not duly informed as stipulated under section 38 of the Education Act 2013.

“The Ministry would, therefore, like to advise that it has received no application by any school for re-location to a new site and no school should transfer to a new site without being granted an approval and a certificate to that effect failing which the new site will be closed,” reads part of the statement.

Reacting to the development, Executive Director of Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Benedicto Kondowe, says government should be blamed for causing the disorder which he said has resulted into education panic in some affected schools.

Despite describing the ministry’s warning statement on schools’ relocation as justifiable, Kondowe said going forward, government authorities should refrain from making decisions as afterthought saying the confusion has been caused by the manner in which the directive to delay school reopening was effected.

“What has happened is a clear indication of panic that some of the schools affected by the directive are going through because they are mindful that students in some schools are learning while they are on an extended holiday and that’s why some schools are endertaking plan B especially for examinable classes.

“The law prohibits but perhaps we need to look at the state of play in as far as the directive on cholera is concerned. My own view is that moving forward, I think it is important for government to desist from making decisions as an afterthought,” reacted Kondowe.

Concurrently, another renowned education expert Dr Steve Sharra, said the last minute nature of the order from the Covid-19 and Cholera taskforce for schools in Lilongwe and Blantyre not to reopen, caused inconveniences for both learners, teachers and parents in the two cities and Malawi at large.

Dr Sharra, however, told this publication that it is imperative for established schools in the country to embrace devised means for teaching and learning such as Open Distance and e-learning platforms which he said will enable them to continue with classes during times of disruption like these.

Meanwhile, some Malawians on social media have argued that government was just supposed to implement universal extended holiday, saying some schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe decided to relocate considering that they are being banned while students in other schools are learning.

Malawi’s prominent film director, Gift ‘Sukez’ Sukali, wrote on his Facebook page that; “What section in the Education Act allows other students to be attending classes while others are not? Are these students not going to sit the same exam after all?

“What happened to ‘everyone has right to education’? What we can do is to intensify preventive measures and not deter students from attending classes.”

In comments on Malawi Government Facebook page which posted the relocation warning statement, Malawians said giving restrictions without solutions has always been a challenge in the country.

Many commenters argued that the alternatives used by the schools were for the betterment of the country’s education sector.

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