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Covid-19 fears as MSCE exams start

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By Patience Lunda:

Benedicto Kondowe

Activists and the Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) have expressed worry over lack of equipment in many secondary schools, a thing which they argue may compromise Covid-19 preventive measures such as social distancing during the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations scheduled to start Tuesday.

Tum General Secretary, Charles Kumchenga, said many schools lack equipment used during practical examinations, a situation which forces some examination centres to merge and use the available equipment.

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According to Kumchenga, the development might lead to congestion in examination centres thereby compromising social distancing efforts in the process.

“We have observed that many secondary schools have inadequate equipment for practical examinations and this might be a great challenge as it might lead to non-compliance of the Covid-19 preventive measures. Students from different centres may mix to access the equipment,” he said.

Recently, Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) advised schools in the country to adhere to guidelines set aside by the board regarding administration of MSCE examinations amid the pandemic.

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Among others, Maneb asked school authorities to procure apparatus meant for practical examinations prior to the day or risk arrest if procured on examination day.

Commenting on schools’ preparedness for the examinations amid the contagion, Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe, said the anticipated congestion might contribute to further spread of the virus.

“Such issues were supposed to be looked into before, since this year examinations are being written amid the virus. There is need for proper planning so that candidates are not exposed to the virus,” Kondowe said.

Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director, George Jobe, has since advised education authorities to consider having more examination rooms as one way of preventing the spread of the virus.

Recently, Maneb administered Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education examination under strict adherence of Covid-19 measures where among others leaners were required to wash their hands and put on face masks before entering examination halls.

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