Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Patricia Kaliati has warned that governmentwill close down make shift cinemas locally called “video show rooms” that operate during school time.
Kaliati issued the warning during a civic education meeting at Mpingu Trading Centre in the Area of Traditional Authority Malili in Lilongwe on Saturday evening where her ministry held talks and screened cinemas on various development topics.
She said the make shift cinemas were contributing low primary school completion rate which currently stands at 45.7 percent at national level.
“A lot of school going children are going to watch movies in our trading centres instead of attending classes. For example, I have learnt that Mpingu Primary School started this year with 2,060 children but today has 1890 pupils. Worse still, some leave school after break to watch movies in these video show rooms,” Kaliati observed.
The Minister said government is concerned with the trend which has not only affected Lilongwe but all districts in Malawi where pupils prefer to watch Chichewa version of various foreign movies in make shift cinemas in trading centres.
“Children are being exposed to uncensored material which corrupts their minds. If this trend is not checked, Malawi will have a lot of uneducated and unproductive adults in the near future which will affect development. I will therefore, in liaison with the District Commissioner of Lilongwe and other districts establish by-laws that will punish people who will operate video show rooms before 15:00 hours. I will personally close down video show rooms that will not comply,” Kaliati warned.
Head teacher for Mpingu Primary School, Patricia Mpapa told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview that indeed pupils do report for classes in the morning but leave at break time to watch movies at the trading centre which is 50 metres away from the school.
“Pupils leave at break time once they notice that the video show rooms are operating. They even engage in piece work just to raise money to watch these movies. Once they get used to this life style, they drop out of school,” she explained.
Chairperson for District Child Labour and Protection Committee, George Mussa, told Mana that his committee which coordinates all child protection activities in the district concurs with the Minister on the need for by-laws to address the situation.
“Our committee, which is a subcommittee of District Executive Committee held consultation meetings with chiefs, councillors and chairpersons of Area Development Committee on the possible solution to low primary completion rate which is at 23.6 per cent of which, only 60.6 per cent it to secondary school. It was agreed during these meetings that bylaws should be established to ban child labour, child marriages and regulate video show rooms in support of education. We have already started the process of developing these by-laws,” he said.