Malawi Easter school holiday change irks parents

Parents and guardians were taken unawares when government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced last week school holidays were shortened by two weeks.

Some expressed outrage as others expressed the move has brought pressure on their budgeting.

During a debate held by private Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) which sought to ask if education was being taken seriously in the country, some parents said this was not the case, giving the shifting of the opening day for third term as one of the reasons.

“I think government is not doing the right thing to make education in Malawi meaningful. Look at the announcement where they have shortened this holiday by two weeks, bringing pressure on teachers and their planning,” one argued.

Back to school;Pupils at Mendulo Primary School in new uniforms provided by AYISE....Photo Jeromy Kadewere
Back to school;Pupils at Mendulo Primary School in new uniforms provided by AYISE….Photo Jeromy Kadewere

The ministry announced in an official letter signed by secretary for education science and technology, Dr. Macphail Magwira, that it has noted the second term holiday which is starting on 22 March to 22 April 2013 is longer than usual and may affect student’s preparation for the national examinations.

“Therefore the second term holiday has been reduced by two weeks and is to run from 22 April to 5 April 2013. This means third term begin on 8 April and close on 12 July 2013,” stated the statement copied to all public and private schools, education division managers, district education managers, Association for Christian Educators of Malawi (ACEM), and the Independent Schools Association of Malawi (ISAMA).

The move, expressed a wide range of parents and guardians interviewed by Nyasa Times, will bring pressure on their budgeting as salaries had already been planned and in some cases spent, and will have to make changes to cater for school fees, pocket money, groceries and transportation especially for boarding students, which the ministry has advised must report at their respective schools for third term on 7 April 2013.

“I have three children in boarding school in Kasungu, Salima and Mzuzu. Imagine now I have to look for money to take care of their school needs when I had already planned my small salary on other issues that would make me raise enough money for the same should the schools have opened as were indicated earlier. This is outrageous and the ministry has not thought about our plight as parents and guardians,” said James Mhone of Lilongwe.

Meanwhile, some boarding schools which had not yet sent home their students by the time the communication came through announced students specifically in Form Four would not go for the Easter holiday so that they prepare for the national examinations.

Government changed the school calendar to become uniform in all schools in the country, and the move has resulted in some altercations to normal school terms and holidays.

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