Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) has formed a task force to map the way forward on re-opening schools following their closure on March 23 due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The task force formed on Wednesday during a National Stakeholders Planning Meeting at Sunbird Mount Soche has drawn its membership from the academia, civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners and school associations. Professor Lewis Dzimbiri of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources is chairperson.
In an interview, Minister of Education, Science and Technology William Susuwele Banda said government has been receiving proposals to consider re-opening schools.
“We thought it was proper for us to consult stakeholders. So, we have formed a committee that will look into the situation on the ground and we will come up with a final decision,” he said.
Edukans country director Limbani Nsapato, a member, said forming a task force was important because the issue was critical.
He said the education sector was dealing with about eight million children.
“There is pressure to re-open schools, but we have to think of the risks that we are getting into. This committee will look at advantages and disadvantages of re-opening schools,” said Nsapato.
Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe, a member, argued that Standard Eight, Form Four, IGSCE and fourth year students in universities and colleges could go back to school.
“This will provide us an opportunity to learn from the measures so that when government orders full opening of schools, we can have documented best practices,” he said.
John Phuka from College of Medicine, a member of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, warns that rushing to re-open schools could be risky to children and teachers.