Concerned Students from public universities and higher learning in Malawi have threatened that they will call for nationwide demonstrations on Friday if government does not adopt July 13, 2020, as the date for reopening of schools.
The National Planning Taskforce on the Possible Re-opening of Schools, Colleges and Universities recommended that schools should be reopened on July 13, 2020.
The students, led by a law student from Chancellor College, Precous Paul Kalulu, addressed the media in Lilongwe on Wednesday afternoon where they warned government against not adopting the date.
They expressed discontent with the way government is handling coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic fight, arguing government is playing double standards on measures put in place to combat the disease.
“What we are asking from the government is to adopt that date within 48 hours. If that does not happen, then we are taking to the streets,” he said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Taskforce says the decision has been after thorough consultation with different stakeholders including teachers, health experts and the media.
“It is worth pointing out the re-opening of schools, colleges and universities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to loss of lives globally including four in Malawi, is an attempt to ensure a proper balance between the right to education and the right to life. It is for this reason that the Taskforce, at its inception meeting on 22nd May 2020, resolved to consult various stakeholders including teachers, parents, lecturers, students, policy makers, community leaders, health experts, non-state actors and the media among others, to come up with a common position that ensures safe return to learning.
“Recognizing that Malawi is not an island, the Taskforce has also been looking at regional and global trends to draw lessons on how safe re-opening is being managed in other countries. In this regard, the Taskforce has recommended to the Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus, that all schools, Colleges and Universities be re-opened on 13th July, 2020 with specific details and conditions for the re-opening to be announced later after the Taskforce has finalized the consultations,” reads the statement signed by Professor Lewis Dzimbiri, Chairperson of the Taskforce.
The Taskforce further informs the general public and all stakeholders that it is working in a systematic and fact based way to ensure all its decision making is informed by the best of public health data and global best practices that ensure safe re-opening.
The decision of the Taskforce comes amid a sharp increase of covid-19 cases in the country, which has seen the number of confirmed cases rising to 336 with over 200 cases recorded within the past few days.