Lack of security at Magwero Primary School in Lilongwe is forcing teachers to commute from far residential areas; a development which is affecting learning at the school.
The isolated school, located about 15 kilometres from Lilongwe along M1 Road, near Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) has, for the past four years, experienced an exodus of teachers.
Some teachers are said to commute from as far as Lumbadzi (almost 10 kilometres away) and Area 25 (about 4 kilometres away).
This is happening despite the school having six teachers’ houses where only two are occupied.
Between 2009 and 2010, teachers left the school houses following a series of break-ins and theft. The two houses were only occupied in 2015.
Deputy Head Teacher at the school, Arnold Malizwe confirmed the concerns saying despite efforts from the community and other authorities, the threat remains.
“Most teachers are still afraid to occupy the houses because of safety concerns and some complain of the isolation from markets and other amenities. Some complain about lack of electricity. Even those of us who live here have to travel longer distances to get to markets,” he said.
He also complained that the teachers often come late and knock off earlier leaving learners with limited time for learning.
One of the learners (name withheld), said some teachers come as late as 9 a.m. and at times teach only one or two subjects in the limited time.
“The teachers are late and now students arrive late for classes,” he said.
Madalitso Mtchini who has been teaching at the school for 11 years said the security situation has improved though traces of insecurity still linger.
She mentioned lack of police presence and limited community security as a scare for teachers.
“We still lack proper security,” said Mtchini.
Kabwabwa Ward councilor, Alexander Phodogoma confirmed in a telephone interview about the need for security and agreed to having attended meetings on the same.
“We have been discussing this issue and right now we are looking forward to rehabilitate a structure at the school to act as a police unit. We are working together with our MP [Lilongwe City Centre Member of Parliament, David Bisnowaty] to engage stakeholders and if possible to see how Constituency Development Fund can assist on the same,” said Phodogoma.
He also said he was talking with other stakeholders to assist the school and community.
School Committee Chairperson, Chiyembekezo Kumalambo said in a telephone interview that Magwero Primary School has had the security problems for a long time, but said the community was now willing to assist though some quarters were still reluctant.
“We have employed two security guards to assist, but we still need the police,” said Kumalambo.
Kanengo Police Public Relations Officer, Sub Inspector Esther Mkwanda said the police were ready to deploy officers to the area so long as the community provides a structure.
“We had a unit at the school when the community gave us one house. Later the house was requested back by the community. They said a teacher wanted to occupy it so we left. Security went bad and the teachers also fled.
“But we have been talking to the communities through community policing and we had been there three times. We have told the communities that we are ready. We are only waiting for a structure,” said Mkwanda.
She said strides were made with the second meeting attended by Officer-in-Charge of Kanengo Police, community policing committees, chiefs, school committee, the councilor and a representative of the MP.
“The MP promised to bring empty shipping containers for the police unit, but we are still waiting. The issue remains with the community to press. We cannot impose. It has to be from community interest,” she added.
Magwero Primary School has 1443 pupils (701 boys and 742 girls) and some learners walk close to 3 kilometres to access the school and many have to cross the M1 Road that poses a safety risk from cruising vehicles.
It is also reported that some learners opt to hitch-hike rides which also raises fears.
Last year only one student of those that sat for standard eight examinations at the school was selected to a community day secondary school while the rest got general passes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :