February 25, 2021

CSEC says closure of schools is tough decision

The Civil Society Education Coalition [CSEC], has reiterated that closure of schools should be informed by data to determine the cumulative damage to the system and the children.

There have been recent calls by some quarters recommending that schools, among others, should be closed with immediate effect in view of the reported surge in Covid-19 cases.

CSEC says it is a tough decision to make but should be the very last resort after Malawians try intensive prevention, risk mitigation and containment measures, hence an appeal for conscious, pragramatic decision calls for closure of schools.

The organization says this is a very serious decision that requires extensive consultations, deep analysis and sober thinking hence, it support the directive that 5 ministries should bang heads before advising the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement dated 13 January 2021, signed by Benedicto Kondowe [Executive Director] and Jenipher Mkandawire [ Board Chairperson], CSEC says the abrupt closure of schools as other quarters are proposing without being pragmatic will be disastrous and have dire consequencies that will be irrecoverable for decades to come.

CSEC says it trust that every Malawian will play his or her part in the fight against Covid-19, saying should the situation merit closure of schools, it is urging all Malawians to have belief in the counsel from medical experts, and continue to support their children affected by such a decision in their homes as they have done before.

The organization has assured Malawians of continuous monitoring the situation and engage with the relevant authorities, saying Covid-19 is real, all have a moral responsibility to themselves and others and every person’s little effort is key in the fight against Covid-19.

……”While appreciating the above concerns, anxieties, grief and the moral duty that we all have towards the nation to fight Covid-19, we are of the view that any decision to close schools should be based on evidence or data that gives us a full account of the potential risk of maintaining schools,’’…..reads part of the statement.

CSEC is supporting the idea that there should be a rapid assessment by the Presidential Taskforce for informed decision making, education sector, disaster cluster should also examine how the current efforts in the schools have fared in the face of the pandemic inorder to guide on strategies moving forward.

The organization says keeping the schools open, there’s need for decongestion, employment of double shifting and strict compliance to health guidelines, saying this can work if government increase the labour force and infrastructure.

It says government will have to seriously put in place measures to safeguard learners from social challenges such as the unprecedented number of pregnancies that were recorded during the first closure of schools as a result of Covid-19.

The organization says it is expecting government to work with stakeholders to engage the learners, parents, guardians and communities at large to curb any potential social breakdown as a result of the school closures and this will require multi–sectoral approach.

By Vincent Gunde

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