Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has called for unity among different sectors, actors and stakeholders to implement national education investment plan which the government has established to achieve education for all.
Speaking during 2020 CSEC annual general meeting in Lilongwe on Monday, CSEC Programs Committee Chairman, Wesley Chabwera, said developing partners who are also responsible to support government in terms of funding and technical expertise; as well as civil society, academia, teachers, communities local leaders; are vital so as to be able to make progress in implementing the plan.
He stated Covid-19 has disrupted education all around the world, including Malawi, where there has been closure of closure of schools since the Covid-19 pandemic started but education cannot wait. It needs to continue and the government has to put in place measures that enable the continuation of education; for example online platforms and government website so that learners continue learning.
He said, “…However, we still have challenges for example in terms of urban and rural divide, for online platforms you appreciate that the infrastructure is not there in community and rural areas thus perpetrating inequality. You find that learners in urban areas are able to learn, but in the rural areas it’s difficult. We are complaining that there are insufficient teachers to handle double shifts, so extra shifts have been created to decongest classes. We need more teachers, more classes, and more water points for learners to wash hands to follow sanitation.”
Chabwera further added that over the years they have made progress in access to education especially in primary school sub-sector where enrollment has gone up. Tbere is progress in secondary sub sector however, they still have challenges: looking at the figures there are still more learners that are not in school, school aged children are not in school and dropout are still there especially for girls because of various reasons.
On his part Director of Policy and Planning in the Ministry of Education, Dr Francis Zhuwao, said there are some challenges with regards to equitable access to education as well as teacher-pupil ratios through customs, but government is taking positive steps to ensure that they will invest rightly in the education sector.
Zhuwao said, “You will recall that we are running a project on Malawi Education Investments Program, where we have constructed 500 classroom blocks across 8 districts, so as to ensure that it contributes to the decline in the ratios and same programme because of some displacement link indicators we achieved,
“We have also received about 2.9 million dollars; we actually we got 6.5 million dollars; that is ear-marked to construct about 210 teachers houses so as to ensure that we provide teachers with accommodation, and we are going to target reform areas and we can start next doing this in the next fiscal year.”
He added that they received some funds from DODMA and Global Partnership for Education, which they will transfer to the schools themselves so that they can go and procure the Covid-19 prevention gear.
According to Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, most of the students and teachers schools that are diagnosed with Covid-19 are recovering, which makes the government not to close schools.
By Dean Chisambo