Covid-19: Blantyre Synod Wants Children to Learn at Home

By Brian Wasili

Mwanza, May 11, Mana: Blantyre Synod on Saturday engaged Mwanza District Council to come up with workable interventions that will enable learners to continue learning while they are at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic that influenced government to close down schools indefinitely on March 23 this year.

Program Manager for Education Department at Blantyre Synod, Geoffrey Kamanga made the call during an advocacy meeting between Blantyre Synod and Mwanza District Council officials and stakeholders aimed at ensuring that there is improved disaster risk management in education in the district held at Zalewa in Neno.

“As you are aware that schools in the country have been closed since March 23 it means education and learning systems have come to a halt.

“Much as we appreciate that robust work plans have been laid down by councils across the country in response to the pandemic, our interest is how much has been done by such institutions to ensure that education of leaners still continues while they are at home,” said Kamanga.

He said as such his institution decided to engage Mwanza District Council to brainstorm on possible solutions that will ensure that the teaching and learning processes that have been disrupted should continue while leaners are at home to complement government efforts.

The meeting was concluded with, among other resolutions, that communities in the district should be sensitized on the importance of parents and guardians to take a leading role to ensure that their wards are regularly doing school work this time that they are at home.

One of them was that learners should be guided to formulate study time table that will be monitored by parents and guardians in their respective homes.

It was also agreed that able learners in upper classes should be encouraged to assist one another in households whose parents are illiterate.

The initiative will be under the supervision of Primary Education Advisors (PEAs) in their respective zones in collaboration with their school inspectors who will in turn submit reports of its effectiveness to the District Education Manager (DEM) and stakeholders. 

The DEM for Mwanza, Saulos Namani observed that due to long stay at home the learners are exposed to a lot of exploitations that will impact their education.

He cited child labour, sexual abuse, early pregnancies, child marriages, drug and alcohol abuse among others which he said result from laxity of children from school work.

“Education for our children requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders.  Therefore, we want to empower local structures in communities to ensure that the learners are not left loitering around but they should be educated to help develop the nation,” said Namani.

He then hailed Blantyre Synod for the support to the education sector in the district which he said would help keep children busy at home.

Advocacy in education program by the synod which works to improve the lives of children through better education, rights to health care and protection among others is a five year intervention under Securing Children’s Rights through Education and Protection (SCREP).

It is implemented by the Blantyre Synod in collaboration with Malawi government in districts of Mwanza and Neno with funding from Norad through Save the Children Norway channeled to Save the Children International Malawi.

Participants at the workshop were drawn from District Civil Protection Committees (DCPC), Education sector and education network in the district.

Earlier, the participants were oriented on origin of COVID 19, its transmission, symptoms and prevention.

About 40,000 primary school leaners in the district are expected to benefit from this initiative in the district.

Mwanza has 57 public primary schools against about 600 teachers in six education zones.

The Blantyre Synod’s advocacy on education comes at the time that Malawi Government is about to reinforce lessons for primary school leaners through radio and television alongside online learning for secondary school students.