Property worth K7.5 million was damaged after Ntcheu Secondary School students torched and destroyed their institution in what government has described as the most severe school riot in Malawi in recent years.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology spokesperson Rabecca Phwitiko, in giving the damage-assessment amount and the gravity of the rioting yesterday, said the school would remain closed indefinitely because the institution was extensively damaged in the September riot.
She lamented the fact that rioting seems to be the preferred way unleashed by students whenever they have grievances.
Apart from the incident at Ntcheu Secondary School, several other secondary schools, including Nachitheme (also in Ntcheu) and Nkhotakota, experienced riots recently, she noted.
Said Phwitiko: “The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will severely punish such perpetrators of violence. The ministry is handling the disciplinary cases and, in some instances, there have been criminal elements and these are being handled as such.”
She said that some students at Nkhotakota Secondary School have been charged with arson.
At Ntcheu Secondary School, students ran amok reportedly after management tried to stop a habit of chatting and playing in dormitories, or going to town, instead of attending classes.
The tension between students and their teachers came to a head when some unrepentant ‘ring-leaders’ were suspended, a decision that drew the wrath of their sympathetic student colleagues.
“The students were extremely aggressive. They damaged, ransacked and looted school property, including breaking window panes at the administration block, the kitchen, the multi-purpose hall and the deputy headmaster’s residence, among other places,” Ntcheu Police Station spokesperson Gift Matewere said.
He said the computer laboratory, which housed, among other items, three photocopiers and two printers, seemed to bear the worst damage, as it was torched. Over 100 mattresses were also torched in a room near the computer laboratory, he added.