As some learners across the country continue to learn in ramshackle structures, often without access to sources of potable water, K5 billion meant for addressing such challenges has been lying idle in the government.
The Daily Times has learned that, despite that, five months ago, the Treasury allocated the Ministry of Education K5 billion for construction of low-cost classrooms and drilling of boreholes in schools across the country, there is nothing tangible on the ground.
However, Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the funds have now been transferred into schools’ accounts and that it is a matter of weeks before works start.
He said, in line with the government’s objective of decongesting classrooms and providing potable water to learners and teachers as part of protecting them from Covid, the procurement of materials meant for construction of 383 classrooms starts next week.
“Preparations have started. Following the sensitisation of community members, communities have started mobilising resources such as sand,” Chimala said.
He added that community sensitisation campaigns on boreholes were in progress, adding that procurement processes would start in the next two weeks.
“The ministry is making sure that the due process of procurement law is followed, hence some delays,” Chimala said.
The construction would be done by community members.
The ministry has further indicated that the drilling of 502 boreholes in schools across the country commences in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) has faulted the ministry for slowing down the pace of activities’ implementation.
Tum President Willie Malimba said, with reports of the third wave of Covid making rounds, the need to create space and intensify measures of hygiene was an “urgent one”.
“If we are talking about low-cost shelters, the money was provided to that effect but nothing has been done. The money was allocated some four months ago and now all they can say is that they are sensitising community members to the importance of the activities. They are taking very long.
“These projects are being done to control the spread of the pandemic; the second wave of Covid has gone. Then we are hearing of the third wave and we are hearing they are sensitising community members. What for?” Malimba said.
In February this year, the government allocated K5 billion to the Ministry of Education from the K17 billion set aside for Covid response programmes.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.