Back to school, but not back to normal: Activist warns of compromised Malawi education standard

As schools are set to reopen this Monday after five months of closure due to the emergence coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has warned of compromised delivery of education services because government has not put in place proper measures to facilitate delivery of high quality of education.

ZBS’s Joab Frank Chakhaza (left) moderating the panel discussion as Munthali (centre) and Kondowe look on–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
Munthali: Teachers are the engine of all the social and economic development and Malawi Government is keen to address their grievances–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

CSEC executive director Benedicto Kondowe sounded the warning during a panel discussion monitored on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) Radio and Television on Friday evening.

The Ministry of Education organized a live one-hour radio and TV panel discussion as part of this year’s World Teacher’s Day commemoration, which is under the theme “Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future”.

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on October 5 to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation, which sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.

Supported by USAID and UKAID through the Local Government Accountability Performance (LGAP) Project, the panel discussion saw education activist Kondowe and the Director of Teaching and Education Development at the Ministry of Education, Misheck Yagontha Munthali, tackling a wide range of issues concerning teachers and their role in delivering quality education for all children in Malawi, in line with this year’s commemoration theme.

Kondowe observed that the government has not allocated adequate resources to motivate the teachers as well as putting in place tangible measures for fighting the adverse effects of Covid-19.

“There a number of issues the government needed to address before the reopening of schools. There are issues of salary arrears for teachers, promotions and the delay by the government to recruit additional teachers as some of the outstanding issues,” he said.

“One of the likely challenge to come with the reopening of the schools is lesson overload as teachers try hard to rush through the subjects against the absorption of the students. The other challenge is that teachers and learners will find it difficult observe Covid-19 prevention measures because there isn’t adequate human resource and infrastructure,” added Kondowe.

But Munthali assured that the government will be addressing those challenges while the learners are taking their lessons.

He said double shifting and staggered learning are some of the measures the ministry will employ in order to adhere to the Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

Sometimes there is just no place like school.

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Alamu Pumani Mwakalamba

The issue of Covid-19 is a bit controversial as there are still many questions than answers. Yes we have had cases and deaths but who are the most vulnerable groups to Covid-19? Does weather play a part? If you look at Malawi very few people are using masks and sanitizing. If we were very strict to follow the measures, could we have closed the schools? I think we just follow what the European countries do without analysing our own situation. We don’t work. I feel sorry for the poor who send their children to public schools where teachers are less… Read more »

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