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Controversy in Atem regional finals

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Controversy rocked the Association of the Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem) Southern Region finals held on Saturday at Zomba Urban Secondary School.

One of the schools–Chichiri — despite falling out in the divisional finals was allowed to contest in the regional finals, an action which disappointed some of the schools.

Chichiri Secondary School, which has been dominating the competition in the past years, came fourth during the South West Education Division (Swed) finals.

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The top three schools which made it to the regional finals from this division were Jacaranda School for Orphans, Joyce Banda Foundation and Blantyre Baptist Academy.

But Chichiri, who are reported to have lodged a complaint, were allowed to participate in the regional finals bringing the total number of the participating schools in this division to four.

To make matters worse, Chichiri Secondary School went on to claim position three to book a place into the finals.

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During the regional finals, Providence Girls came first with their play My Story. The school also came first during the Shire Highlands Divisional finals.

On second position was Jacaranda School for Orphans with Chichiri Secondary on position three.

However, the move has not gone down well with some schools, especially Blantyre Baptist which came fourth during the regional finals.

Blantyre Baptist has indicated that if Chichiri was not allowed to participate in the regional finals, they could have made it to the national finals.

Sources said yesterday that Blantyre Baptist has since lodged a complaint on the issue, saying that Chichiri Secondary School could not have been allowed to participate.

The sources also alleged that Atem Southern chapter chairperson Chikumbeni is the one, who made changes to allow Chichiri Secondary School to participate.

Chikumbeni could not be reached for his comment yesterday.

Efforts to talk to Chichiri Secondary School proved futile yesterday.

Atem President Fanuel Mapira confirmed receiving Blantyre Baptist’s complaint yesterday but indicated that he could not make a decision as he was yet to get the regional finals’ results as well as a full report from Atem Southern Chapter Chairperson a Mr Chikumbeni.

“I am yet to receive a full report from Chikumbeni on the results. But I have got a phone call from Blantyre Baptist, who have indicated that Chichiri Secondary School was allowed to participate in the regional finals and yet they came fourth in the divisional finals,” Mapira said.

He said once he gets a full report from Chikumbeni, he will analyse the whole issue.

“For now I have asked Blantyre Baptist to put their complaint in writing and explain everything. I expect a full report from Chikumbeni and team as to why Chichiri was allowed to participate despite not making it to the regional finals,” Mapira said.

Actor and poet Yangairo Yangairo said the 10 schools that participated in the regional finals put up impressive performances save for the controversy involving Chichiri Secondary School.

“We enjoyed the plays and everything went well apart from the issue of Chichiri Secondary School,” he said.

A member of Atem South Chapter Davie Mpaso said he was surprised to see that Chichiri Secondary School had been allowed to participate.

“I am told they were not satisfied with the results and lodged a complaint. As a member, I was also surprised to see them participating. This was not a healthy move and will disappoint many in terms of Atem’s credibility,” Mpaso said.

He also revealed that one of the schools – Chiradzulu did not make it as they had no transport.

Meanwhile, Mapira has said Atem is still struggling with sponsorship, adding that they have written proposals for support but they have not been successful.

“We would love to hold the national finals end May or early June but we are still in need of support. For now we have not yet booked a venue and even found sponsorship for prizes,” Mapira said.

Some quarters, however, have observed that Atem, which has helped unearth actors and actresses among them theatre maestro late Du Chisiza Jr, could have made huge steps by now and that there is no growth.

During the regional finals, the best actor and actress came from Jacaranda School for Orphans and Providence Girls respectively.

The best English speaker came from St Michaels.

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