Malawi government has resolved to partially reopen primary and secondary chools, colleges and universities on September 7, 2020, with students sitting for their final examinations expected to start.
The government said this is a deliberate move to enable it monitor the prevalence of the marauding coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Government ordered closure of all schools in Malawi even before the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in the country, as a preventive measure to the emergence and subsequent spread of the virus pandemic.
The Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Agnes Nyalonje, told journalists in Lilongwe on Thursday that all the chools will have to be disinfected before the date and that all teachers will be oriented on Covid-19 preventive measures.
Nyalonje said, among others, that some of the preventative measures include wearing of masks by teachers and learners.
“So, on Monday 7 September 2020, Standard Eight learners, Form Four students and all students in their final year at universities will report to school. Other learners will be allowed to start learning after three weeks prior Monday, September 7, 2020,” she said.
She disclosed that a team of desk officers at district level has already been trained on Covid-19 prevention measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in schools.
And in an effort to inform parents, guardians and the learners, the ministry has flighted ‘Back To Schools’ messages on various radio stations.
The ministry also purchased radio sets and tablets to be used by physically challenged learners.
The second group is expected to report back to school three weeks later on October 12, and these are students in forms 1 to 3 and pupils from standard 1 to 7.
Higher learning institutions will have to make plans as to when to take in the second phase of students.
However, the Minister has instructed that learners from standard 1 to 4 should not be reporting to school at the same time because there are a lot of students in these classes unlike in the upper classes.
As such, head teachers should make arrangements as to how pupils in these classes should best be alternating in reporting to school.
“This opening will be done with a lot of measures in place to allow us to monitor the situation. That is why we are saying we have to balance the right to life and right to education so that as we are opening, we do not just open this up in a free for all manner, but rather to help schools put in place and maintain preventive measures.
“The ministry of health has put in a decentralized system that is accompanying every level of preparations in every areas schools are,” said Nyalonje.
Nyalonje said it was also crucial to reopen schools considering the importance education plays in the development of the nation.
She said expert statistics indicate closing schools for a year can result in a 2.5 – 3 percent depression of an economy which can be felt for 40 years.
“Education is designed to provide skills that are going to run the different industries, companies and various sectors of our country. Right now we are talking of a new and better Malawi for all, but to change Malawi we need the engineers, doctors and all the different skills, and education is what produces those skills.
“As such we need to open and continue to teach our young people because if we kill education, we kill our country. Yes COVID-19 is here, but we have been told by experts that COVID-19 is under control and the president has approved the fact that we want to open,” she said.
In his remarks, the Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, Dr John Phuka, disclosed that Covid-19 cases are now declining in the country as witnessed by current statistics obtained in the past few days.
Malawi has recorded 5474 cases and 173 deaths from the virus so far, although the real figure may be higher as fewer than 50,000 tests have been conducted.
“Considering the prevailing circumstances, learners can now go back to school,” he said, stressing that the month of July was the worst with more registered Covid-19 cases and deaths.
“But the numbers this month of August have been declining,” he said.
The school closures left more than 5 million pupils across all levels out of class.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :