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Ministry’s policy flood secondary schools

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Ministry of Education’s decision to increase accessibility to secondary education is proving to be a double-edged sword as some schools have been overwhelmed.

The congestion has forced teachers to hold classes outside classrooms in some cases, compromising the quality of education.

The Ministry of Education, through its spokesperson Manfred Ndovi, has since acknowledged the challenges but has justified the ministry’s decision as necessary in order to accommodate many students in public schools.

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“This is because the ministry would like to increase access to education as enshrined in the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) of 2008-2017. We would want to make sure that there is expanded access to education,” he said.

Our recent survey discovered congestion at Limbe CDSS in the City of Blantyre where records indicate that the ministry has continued to select 100 students to start Form 1 at the school when its capacity is 50 students per classroom.

Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) indicates that other schools in similar situation include Chipasula Secondary School, Mzuzu Secondary School, Nkhata Bay Boys Secondary School, Mkwichi CDSS, Chinsapo CDSS, Mulunguzi Secondary School, Umbwi Secondary School and Chikwawa Secondary School.

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Chairperson of the school management committee at Limbe CDSS, Charles Kapito, described the situation as ‘terrible.’

“The school is overwhelmed by a student population that it cannot hold. Imagine students have to learn while standing outside the window. They cannot find space in the class. We have had meetings with the administration but they have also failed to provide a solution. To us it is a great cause of concern because besides the lack of capacity, the school is in very bad shape,” he said.

A teacher at the school, who refused to be named, told Malawi News that the teaching staff was frustrated with the working conditions where in some cases classes are held outside classrooms.

The infrastructure at the school is also crumbling, a development that has been attributed to overpopulation of students.

“It doesn’t make sense to be teaching a class beyond its capacity with other students standing even right outside. Such a class is not only difficult to control, but also make teaching and learning almost difficult. You cannot have a class 100 percent above its capacity and be expected to check the work for all the students,” said the teacher.

But according to Ndovi, government is not sitting idle.

“We have challenges of school blocks as well as number of teachers. As such we are forced to use the available resources to cater for the demand. However, government is trying its best to consider recruiting more secondary school teachers and also to build some school blocks under the Local Development Fund (LDF).

“We also have development partners who are assisting such as JICA. The Japanese are upgrading some of the CDSSs in the country,” he added.

Ndovi said, so far, the ministry is upgrading Mbidzi CDSS, Tsabango CDSS, and Dzenza CDSS under phase 2 of the project.

However, Csec executive director, Benedicto Kondowe, said the situation had serious ramifications on the education sector

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