Female students sitting for the 2017 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations were among those who were greatly affected by the minibus strike in Blantyre yesterday.
Candidates sitting for Physical Science Paper 2 [practicals] were seen across town scampering for transport to their respective examination centres.
But girls were the most affected as they lacked the agility of their male counterparts to run and cross blockades mounted by the striking drivers and touts as police fired tear gas canisters to disperse striking minibus drivers and touts.
“To us female candidates, the strike has severely affected us because we could not run and duck barricades in the same manner as our male counterparts. Some of my friends got injured and returned home to dress wounds or change clothes,” claimed Precious Kamanga, who was sitting for examinations at Chichiri Secondary school.
Another candidate, Mphatso Likomwa from Machinjiri, who was sitting for her examinations at the same centre said the strike had psychologically affected her.
“At this centre [Chichiri where candidates take turns due to shortage of apparatus] the sessions have started two hours later than scheduled. This means we might not finish on time to finish all the four sessions on schedule.
“That will mean we will have to leave very late and that is dangerous for us girls. That is besides the fact that we are not even sure that we will have any transport after the exams.”
Elias Fred, a candidate based in Chirimba, who had to avail himself to Blantyre Secondary School by 7 am, said he had to hitchhike as angry strikers blocked the road with burning tyres.
“Even after doing that, we met angry people who had blocked roads and were demanding that no vehicle should carry passengers. As a result, I arrived at the centre over 30 minutes after the session had started.”
Mariko Goba from Kachere Township in Blantyre also sitting at Chichiri said most candidates had their budgets stretched due to the rise in fares due to high demand for transport.
Another candidate, Clara Chisi, from the same centre said: “Today even supervisors are coming late to examination halls. It is total chaos and I pray that something happens quickly to change this.”
But Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb) spokesperson Simeon Maganga played down the disturbances saying there was a remote chance that the strike would affect the administration of the exams.