Stakeholders urge government to reopen schools that have been spared from cyclone Freddy

KONDOWE: Within the affected districts, there are some schools and locations which have not been affected

Concerned stakeholders in the education sector has asked government to consider reopening schools that have not been affected by the tropical cyclone Freddy in the Southern region.

This follows as ministry of education has extended the suspension of primary and secondary school classes from March 20 up to the end of the term on March 31, 2023 due to Cyclone Freddy.

On Friday the Ministry of Education announced of the closure which will run up to March 31st, the day which the second term is expected to end.

According to the statement from the ministry of education this will happen in the districts that have been affected by the cyclone which are Nsanje, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno and Zomba.

“The rapid assessment of schools that the ministry has conducted in the affected districts shows that most structures such as classrooms and toilets are unsafe and hence; need certification before children can be brought to school.

“Furthermore, as of Friday, 17th March, 2023, about 230 schools were being used as holding camps for internally displaced communities. All learners sitting for national and international examinations will return to school on 27th March, 2023,” reads the statement in part.

Meanwhile, education analyst, Benedicto Kondowe, says within the affected districts, there are some schools and locations which have not been affected.

 “Perhaps access is not an issue. Should these be forced to suspend learning? What about boarding with water and electricity not affected save for the national blackouts? Should these be affected?” questioned Kondowe.

“While appreciating the crisis we have in the affected including the collapse of some school infrastructure, we needed to carefully determine the worst scenario and those that are not. This determination would have been further shaped by the immediate response effort; whether provision of temporal structures such as tents is doable or not; where the road networks would allow students to travel to school or not; and the general psychological trauma of students.

“Kondowe added that “I would imagine how hard it will be to recover 5 weeks or so across schools in the disaster districts. For high schools that sit for Cambridge examinations to be advised to close school and reopen around 27th is equally not helping matters,” He said

Commenting on the matter Independent Schools Association of Malawi (ISAMA) president Wycliffe Chimwendo said the plea is coming following a number of disturbances that the term have had in some districts in the southern region including the cholera outbreak.

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