By Duncan Mlanjira
Machinga Development Association (MADAS) has petitioned Machinga District Commissioner Bester Mandere that his office should urgently renovate the roof of classrooms at Malundani Community Day Secondary School which was blown off by strong winds in December last year.
But DC Mandere told this reporter that MADAS should channel the petition to Education Division and not to his office since at the moment it has no councilors, who will be elected on May 21 during the Tripartite Elections.
However, the petition, signed by MADAS chairperson Dr. Bridon M’baya and secretary Rabson Assam, was copied to Education Division Managers for Machinga and Zomba as well to principal secretaries for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and to the Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Education Coalition and to the media.
The petition said MADAS is very concerned that since the incident, the school has suspended classes for students in Forms 1 to 3.
“As we all know, time is a precious resource that cannot be replaced when lost. The learners at Malundani CDSS are missing out on valuable class time while their counterparts in other schools and districts are advancing with their education.
“We are particularly dismayed with this because Machinga has suffered poor education infrastructure for many years. Machinga is the only major district in Malawi without a government boarding school.
“It is also in Machinga where in 2018, the government selected 120 students to an incomplete Machinga Boarding Secondary School such that those students have been dumped in the poorly resourced community day secondary schools across the district.
“It is also in Machinga where the Government is refusing to temporarily close down Machinga Teachers Training College and use it to house a Boarding Secondary School while the same government willingly and permanently closed down Mzuzu Teachers Training College to house Mzuzu University.
“As if this gross violation of the education and socioeconomic rights of the people of Machinga is not enough, your Council has suspended classes at Malundani Secondary School for not allocating the needed K4.5million to renovate the already poorly resourced school.”
The petition further says this lack of equitable investment in education in Machinga over the years is responsible for the appalling socioeconomic indicators of the district.
“It is one of the three poorest districts in Malawi despite having rich agricultural land and two lakes. It has the lowest attainment of tertiary education qualifications at 0.3% of the population against a national average of 1.6%.
“It is not surprising that in the recently released 2018 Malawi National Census results, Machinga has the highest intercensal population growth rate in the whole of Malawi of 3.9% between 2008 and 2018. We all know that attainment of basic education is associated with small families and low population growth.
“Being accorded the undesirable accolade of having the highest intercensal population growth rate without significant immigration is an indictment of failure of your office and central government to provide relevant services in Machinga top of which is quality basic education.
“It is therefore dismaying that instead of taking steps to improve provision of basic education services, your Council is taking steps to inflict further damage to an already suffering district. It can clearly be seen that your Council’s response to the situation at Malundani CDSS has bad long term consequences, is disastrous and unreasonable.
“We call upon you to immediately implement interventions which make it possible for students to continue with their classes and to immediately allocate funds to renovate the school,” says the statement.