Lilongwe — About 10,000 students with special needs from 26 schools across Malawi will benefit from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which has been handed over to the Ministry of Education from the Second Lady, Mrs Mary Chilima in an event held at the Vice President's official residence.
During the ceremony, Madam Chilima symbolically presented 10,000 masks and three sewing machines to the Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje, who was accompanied by her Deputy Minister, Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa.
Speaking on the sidelines after the ceremony, Madame Chilima said she received the masks from Mask Up Malawi organisation and considering that schools have just opened, as a mother, she opted to channel the donation to children with special needs instead of women who were the initial beneficiaries.
She said: "I am very encouraged with the efforts by government and the private sector in donating masks to various educational institutions. I call upon all stakeholders to include children with special needs in light of the Covid-19 pandemic as schools have now reopened.
"So far, we are on the right track in the fight against Covid-19. We should not relax until this virus is completely eradicated because in some other countries it has resurfaced after weakening preventive measures. I am encouraging all those that can help to come forth and make donations to these vulnerable children."
According to the Minister of Education, the donation which will be distributed to 18 primary schools and six secondary schools, will prioritize learners with physical challenges.
NyaLonje also pointed out the challenges being faced by learners and teachers with hearing impairment who struggle to communicate using face masks henceforth calling for well wishers to donate face shields.
"There is a group of learners who need to see the full face of the teacher and the same applies for teachers who need to see that of learners for effective teaching and learning process to take place. We have already identified where we will be sourcing these face shields summing up to 30,000.
"I cannot mention the exact date when these masks will be procured but this week we will be looking into it since the budget was delivered on Friday. We call upon education stakeholders to emulate gestures being made by institutions like MUST who have been making face shields," she said.
The event which also patronized by Lilongwe City Mayor , Juliana Kaduya, had representatives of schools with special needs students from Lilongwe Girls Secondary School and SOS Children's Village.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, there are over 173,000 students with special needs in Malawi.