Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe, has urged government to re-open schools by restricting it to Standard Eight, Form Four, IGSCE and fourth year students in universities and colleges could go back to school.
Kondowe made the remarks on Wednesday at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre during the National Stakeholders Planning Meeting to map the way forward on re-opening schools following their closure on March 23 due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“If we can start gradual, it will provide us an opportunity to learn from the measures so that when government orders full opening of schools, we can have documented best practices,” said Kondowe, a member of the task force with its membership from the academia, civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners and school associations.
“We need to plan around the intervention emergency and beyond,” he said.
Father George Buleya of the Roman Catholic Church but was presenting Association of Private Universities in Malawi also said schools should be re-opened because private universities and colleges are finding it difficult to pay salaries to their lectures.
“Our opinion on this matter is that we need to re-open schools otherwise most private Universities and Colleges will collapse since they rely on school fees to pay their lecturers,” he said.
George Chiunda,who was presenting Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) also said the Board is worried with the situation because they cannot continue keeping exams in their warehouse.
However, Dr John Phuka John Phuka from College of Medicine, a member of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, warns that rushing to re-open schools could be risky to children and teachers.
Edukans country director Limbani Nsapato, a member, ,warns that the education sector is dealing with more than 8 million children in the country which is also half of the population.
“There is pressure to re-open schools, but we have to think of the risks that we are getting into. This committee will look at advantages and disadvantages of re-opening schools,” said Nsapato.
Nsapato said schools should not be re-opened soon given the fact that the nation will be putting many children and teachers at risk of contracting the Coronavirus.
“I know that the private sector, parents and students may want us to re-open schools soon but l think for now it is important that the committee formed by government should develop a frame work for re-opening schools which looks at the key indicators supported by the health personal’s,” he said.
Members of the task force include, Professor Lewis Dzimbiri, who is the Chairperson from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Justin Saidi, who is Secretary for Education, Science and Technology, Benedicto Kondowe, from Civil Society Education Coalition, Rev. Father George Buleya from Association of Private Universities in Malawi, Charles Kamanga from Teachers Union of Malawi, Joseph Patel, from Independent Schools Association of Malawi, Dr Limbani Nsapato from Edukans, Brother Pascal Mtwana from Associaiton of Christian Education in Malawi.
Other members include George Chiunda, Ruth Samati Kambali, Symon Maunde, Dr Dan Namarika, Kimanzi Muthengi, Sabina Morley and Christine Veverka.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology William Susuwele Banda said government has been receiving proposals to consider re-opening schools.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :