Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) has called on government to provide financial relief to private schools, saying the closure of the institutions due to Covid-19 has heavily affected schools financially.
Isama, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje dated July 28, says schools are accumulating debts and teachers remain unpaid due to the abrupt closure of schools.
The schools have since appealed for financial assistance, asking government to start paying salaries for teachers in privateinstitutions until schools open. When schools open, Isama also wants government to give a tax waiver to the institutions until they stabilise financially.
Reads the letter in part: “We request that government considers assisting with a bailout by way of paying salaries for teachers under Isama until schools reopen. We request that when schools reopen, consideration should be given for a tax holiday on schools under Isama, so that schools can use the funds to revive theinstitutions.”
The association has also prayed for disbursement of loans under Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medef) to teachers and directors of the schools.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the minister was best-placed to comment on the matter, but NyaLonje could not be reached on her phone.
But during the launch on an e-learning partnership between College of Medicine and TNMplc on Saturday, NyaLonje acknowledged that academic institutions are facing challenges as they adapt to the closure due to Covid-19.
She said: “Covid-19 has hit the education sector hard. Over five million children, youths and adults in the country have not been attending schools or universities.
“The pandemic is not going away and we need to find ways to manage the disease so that we limit disruptions to our society. This will only be done if we find new ways of working together.”
The minister added that many salaried employees are not working fully and many businesses are generating low revenues due to Covid-19 effects, adding to the financial burden on parents and guardians.
But on his part, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is also government spokesperson, said government’s priority currently is the health sector.
He said: “Our focus is on survival of Malawians. We want make sure we help to protect Malawians from the virus and further spread of the disease. Independent schools should not expect a financial bailout because government does not have the capacity to start supporting businesses.”
In a separate interview, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda said schools will remain closed as government is trying to protect learners.
Isama has 850 primary schools and 680 secondary schools under its membership which have been heavily affected by Covid-19 closure.