Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has cautioned government to critically assess support being given to Lilongwe Girls Secondary School students who tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Csec executive director Benedicto Kondowe was reacting to a statement issued by the Ministry of Education on Sunday in which it justified government’s decision to keep in school 331 students who tested positive after a mass testing exercise conducted at the school.
The statement, signed by the ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS) Chikondano Mussa, states that the ministry is keeping the girls in school for easy monitoring of the situation and to prevent further transmission of the virus.
It reads in part: “From a public health perspective, government has decided to keep all students on the campus…Government will thus make sure that everyone receives the most appropriate attention when needed.”
However, while welcoming government’s decision, Kondowe called on the ministry to state clearly the type of support being given to students in general, looking at the current rate of transmission.
In his view, the government needs to look at the best mechanisms and how it is going to reach out to students travelling back to their various communities. He feared there could be a possibility that some students going back to their communities may unknowingly have Covid-19 and later transmit it to others.
He said: “Government’s idea to keep girls in school and its effort to contain the situation is commendable, if indeed girls will be provided with necessary support.
“However we need to dig deeper on what support is being given to them because we hear that they are not being attended to. Government also needs to look at the interests of students who have not yet tested positive. It also has to look at the mechanisms to ensure that those who have not tested positive should not contract the virus…”
On Friday, some parents expressed concern that students are still being kept in school amid Covid-19 infections at the campus where 137 out of 605 students tested positive.
Mussa highlighted in a statement that government will continue disinfecting learning institutions in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Since the dawn of the 2021, a new wave of covid-19 has since killed over 111 people, including Cabinet ministers and a PS within a space of one month. On a daily basis, the country is recording over 300 new cases.
President Chakwera has since ordered a temporary closure of schools and has spelled out a number of strict measures that need to be seriously followed until the situation calms down. He declared the country a State of National Disaster.