Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has urged the government to consider sending back to school Standard Eight and Form Four learners so that they can sit for their national examinations.
Csec Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe is of the view that if there is no imminent threat of the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, in schools, accommodating Form Four and Standard Eight learners alone can help increase space required for social distance.
“In respect of Standard Eight and Form Four examinations, our view is that government should do an assessment to determine if the risk is imminent. If the risk is not imminent, we urge the government to consider allowing these learners to return to school to sit for the examinations,” Kondowe said.
He also appealed to private school owners to consider reducing fees for the next school term “considering that learners did not complete learning during the current academic term despite paying fees in full”.
President of the Independent Schools Association of Malawi, Joseph Patel, refused to comment on the possibility of slashing the school fees.
Kondowe also urged the government to bail out the Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) so that it can write off loans for the current semester “since the students might not have utilised the money due to the Covid-19 recess”.
HESLGB Chief Executive Officer, Chris Chisoni, said the board cannot write off the loans because they are paid to institutions and not directly to the students.
Chisoni said as a precaution, loans for the next semester will be withheld until the colleges reopen.
He also encouraged needy students to utilise this period to apply for the loans for the 2020/2021 academic year.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology, William Susuwele Banda, said the government is monitoring the situation in the education sector in relation to the coronavirus threat.
He also said the government is exploring ways which can be used to engage learners at home to ensure that learning continues while the schools remain closed.