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Malawi government to probe private schools

Private schools that are operating below the minimum standard requirements must be really afraid as plans by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology are at an advanced stage to shut them down until they are certified fit to offer education in the country.

Both Deputy Minister of Education Vincent Ghambi and Secretary for Education Lonely Magreta confirmed in separate interviews with The Daily Times that an intense probe into how private schools are operating in the country will be undertaken soon.

According to a source – who is among the strategists of the exercise – the crackdown is expected to rival the massive closure of private schools that once happened during the reign of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.

“For some time now, no clear and proper check-up of private schools, especially secondary schools, has been undertaken and this does not reflect well on our responsibility. We know there are schools that are striving to adhere to the standards while others relax too much.

“It is not just a matter of making money at the expense of quality. So, yes, we will soon be cracking down on all private schools that do not meet the requirements. They know the requirements and they have no excuse,” said the source.

According to Ghambi, schools that offer substandard services do not only derail education development in the country, but they also rob Malawians.

“That is not something that can be condoned and we want to send a strong message out there that we will not let private schools that are not adhering to the standards continue operating in Malawi. We will shut them down,” said Ghambi.

On her part, Magreta said the ministry is allowing schools to conduct the ongoing Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations first before it can pounce on substandard private schools.

“We don’t want to disturb those that are writing their examinations.

“The exercise has to be undertaken while school is in progress, but still there is need for caution so that at the end, it does not affect candidates,” said Magreta.

She added that the crackdown is very likely to be in full force from the next school year, targeting both licensed and unlicensed schools.

“The licensed ones will be probed to see if they are maintaining or improving on the standards. The unlicensed ones will be shut down until they are licensed,” said Magreta.

Last month, we exposed how the Ministry of Education is failing in its duties by letting private schools in the country operate at their own free will, without anyone monitoring their standards.

Some issues which are a major concern to stakeholders regarding education offered by private schools include overcrowding in classrooms, inadequate teaching and learning materials, unqualified teachers and poor structures.

Education activists have also been calling on government to improve the quality of education in some public schools, especially Community Day Secondary Schools, most of which do not have enough qualified teachers and teaching and learning materials.

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