Ministry of Education has adopted a phased approach to reopening schools which were closed in March this year as a Covid-19 preventive measure.
Addressing the press in Lilongwe yesterday, Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said the first phase will reopen on Monday, September 7 2020 starting with examination classes in primary schools (Standard 8) and secondary schools (Form Four) as well as university final year students.
Said the minister: “Colleges, universities and schools that offer international curriculum will be allowed to take the second phase after three weeks from the first phase reopening. All colleges and universities will have to decide on which groups to go first in consultation with the ministry since these were at different stages.”
She said upon reopening, all schools and colleges will have to meet requirements on the ministry checklist to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
Among other things, the checklist outlines the need for schools to ensure the availability of hand-washing facilities; orientation of teachers on psychosocial support of children and wearing of face masks.
Said NyaLonje: “Learners below the stipulated age of wearing face masks will not wear them. As such, it will be mandatory for teachers to wear face masks at all times.”
She said the ministry has also drafted a catch-up examinations calendar for Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education to be administered from September 30 2020 to October 2 2020 and Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations to be administered from October 22 to November 30 2020.
Asked what government is doing on teachers demands for risk allowance, NyaLonje said discussions between the two parties are underway to resolve the issue.
The ministry has so far disbursed K2 billion to various schools through zone accounts to help in mask-making training, purchasing of radios for vulnerable children, buckets for hand-washing and suggestion boxes.
An assessment of schools’ preparedness will start on August 30 to determine whether schools should reopen or not.
The ministry, through various stakeholders, yesterday started training teachers on how they can best offer lessons amid Covid-19.
Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson John Phuka, in an interview on the sidelines of the press briefing, said with less Covid-19 cases being registered, schools can reopen if all guidelines are religiously followed.
In a separate interview, educationist Steve Sharra commended the step taken by government to reopen schools and asked Malawians to help government in implementing the plan.
The minister’s announcement follows pleas by the Independent Schools Association of Malawi for government to reopen schools or bailout teachers who were struggling without an income.
Through the new development, the ministry has also released a new academic calendar for 2021 to 2022 for primary and secondary schools with the first term expected to run from January 4 to March 26 2021, second term from April 12 to July 2 2021, and the third term from July 19 to October 08 2021.