President Lazarus Chakwera is set to leave for the United Kingdom (UK) on Sunday for a summit on education amid rising Covid-19 cases both here and the UK.
His host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gone into 10-day self-isolation up to next Monday, July 26, after being in contact with UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has tested positive.
State House announced the President’s trip on Monday during a fortnightly briefing addressed by the President’s executive assistant who doubles as State House director of communication Sean Kampondeni alongside presidential press secretary Brian Banda.
Johnson is scheduled to co-host the UK-Africa Education Summit with Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 28 and 29.
Responding to a question on whether the President could not have attended the summit virtually, Banda said Chakwera will physically travel to the summit because it has “huge benefits” for the country’s education sector.
He said: “The UK summit is a big summit on global partnership on education. President Chakwera together with President Kenyatta of Kenya and the Prime Minister of United Kingdom are the centre of this conference.
“There are also a number of people that will be part and parcel of this conference. It’s not just a one-man show and even if the Prime Minister might be in isolation, it doesn’t make the whole conference fail because it has other experts. President Chakwera is going there to do a job. He is going there under strict Covid measures.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were not immediately available for details of the President’s trip and the conference, but the website for the summit, dubbed the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025 says the summit will be “a key moment for the global community to come together and support quality education for all children”.
The summit seeks to mobilise pledges to help transform education systems in up to 90 countries and territories over the five-year period.
Reads a statement on the summit: “Coronavirus has worsened the global education crisis, with 1.3 billion children, including 650 million girls, out of education at the peak of school closures. Experts warn that many children will never return, particularly as countries experience an economic contraction in the wake of the pandemic.
“Missing out on education does long term damage to individuals and communities, with girls particularly at risk. The benefits of schooling are transformative and multi-generational—a child whose mother can read is 50 percent more likely to live past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school themselves.”
About 175 million children in 87 low-income countries are expected to benefit from investment that could see some $164 billion added to economies in the developing world and lift 18 million people out of poverty while protecting two million girls from early marriage, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, England on Monday lifted lockdown rules with almost all legal restrictions, including limits on how many people can meet, coming to an end and nightclubs reopening. However, self-isolation rules will remain, according to BBC.