Govt Extends Suspension of Classes; Analyst Reacts

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

In a statement, the ministry says this will happen in the districts that have been affected by the cyclone which are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Phalombe, Blantyre, 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 that the universal closure required better justification which he says is missing in the statement.

“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.

“Within the affected districts, there are schools and locations which have not been affected and 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.

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, unless assessments have been made showing some continued potential risk.”

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