By Bright Ndau
The Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has warned the government that any decisions to close schools should be informed by data to determine the cumulative damage to the system and the children.
CSEC has issues the warning in a press statement issued following call by various sectors, individuals and recently calls by Human Rights Defenders Coalition to close school as one measure of protection children from the Covid 19 second wave which has started showing its ugly face.
“It’s a tough decision to make but should be the very last resort after we try intensive prevention, risk mitigation and containment measures.” Reads in part the stamen signed by Benedicto Kondowe and Jennipher Mkandawire, the Executive Director and Chairperson of CESEC respectively.
The stamen went saying, “ this is a very serious decision that requires extensive consultations, deep analysis and sober thinking” adding “we support the direction that five ministries should bang heads before advising the Presidential Taskforce.”
CSEC, acknowledges that Malawi is at war, but notes that these unprecedented times call for nothing but conscious and pragmatic decisions to deal with the pandemic for both the present and posterity.
Kondowe and Mkandawire in the statement said, “while the State has the duty to protect life, it must be acknowledged that it still has the duty to protect all other rights, including the right to education.”
The two went on adding “this would entail providing proper safeguards in order to protect the right to education. It is on this basis that greater attention should be made to intensify and enforce the preventive measures, risk management and containment of the pandemic.”
“We believe that every effort should be made to make schools safe by providing more resources and health surveillance support. We therefore applaud institutions that are practicing temporal closures to allow for disinfection as a short term measure, even in cases where a student or staff has tested positive or indeed died. This allows learning to continue as the situation is being monitored,” reads the statement.
However CSEC was quick to advise that if schools are to close depending on the severity of Covid-19 infections, in case of partial or full lock down, the closure should be gradual and pragmatic.
“We are of the view that government should allow Form Four students who are sitting for their examinations and all those who are about to finish their academic year to wind up without disruption,” CSEC said.
Meanwhile two teachers and four leaners at Mbamba Primary school have tested positive to COVID 19 and are receiving treatment in Karonga North.
As COVID 19 continue to ravage the country, 16 students tested out of 17 student at Lilongwe girls tested positive to COVID 19. Health Officials have sampled 17 students and 16 have test positive.