Blantyre — Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) has said its scheduled online learning and the newly launched emergency radio education programme (EREP) will continue beyond school reopening.
All schools remain closed indefinitely after government directive on March 20, 2020 this yearin light of the corona virus (Covid-19) global pandemic that at the moment has infected 336 people with four fatalities.
The development forced the education ministry to introduce online learning with the aim of keeping in shape learners that are momentarily at home pending a decision from the National Planning Task Force team on whether schools should open doors soon or not.
"On online learning and radio lessons will go on. In addition, the ministry will soon start distributing printed learning materials to learners that cannot access both online and radio programmes," Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. William Susuwele Banda told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview recently on the sidelines of the launch of EREP in Blantyre.
EREP is a new MoEST initiative that will, among others, see educational programmes being aired to school learners through Malawi Broadcasting Corporation's radios 1 and 2 as the country awaits reopening of schools.
"We should expect that the committee will recommend to the ministry on what to put in place in order to open schools," Susuwele Banda said in response to a question on whether schools will open anytime soon amid Covid-19 increasing cases.
Since schools closed, many school going children, especially those in high density areas, risk contracting the virus, according to experts.
Some parents have been expressing worry over continued closure of schools especially for the girl-child who they say may get early pregnancies due to their idleness at home.
One of the concerned parents, Gladys Nkhoma, 35 from Nancholi in Blantyre expressed worry with government for not allowing children to go back to school, especially those who are in national examination classes like Standard 8 and Form 4 while some politicians are on the ground not observing social distance contrary to what health experts advocate for.
Nkhoma said if the children continue staying at home, chances of forgetting what they have been learning in class are very high.
She added: "As a parent, I try my best to assist my child but I know it is not all parents who may have the time to assist their children with school work."
Both teachers from Chilaweni Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre, Faith Chapweteka and Mlodza Primary School in Lilongwe Urban, Mercy Alinafe Ndalama, in separate interviews equally expressed worry that they feel like they are living life without direction.
"This closure of schools is different from that of having a holiday. When it is holiday days I'm full of hope, knowing that am going to work on such a day. This time we are hopeless," said Chapweteka.
On her part Ndalama said the closure has affected them in terms of teaching mood, saying: "I have lost the teaching momentum since I have stayed for a long time without teaching."
Ndalama said when learners are writing exams teachers always plan how to handle them in the next term by looking at their previous performance of which this has not happened since end-of-term exams were interrupted.
"It will be very hard to know where to start from because we did not finish administering the exams," she said.