By George Bulombola, MANA
Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje says the 2020 Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations (PSLCE) have started on a good note on Tuesday but she expressed concerned that a number of girl candidates did not turn up because some of them were impregnated whilst others have married.
This happened during the long period when schools were closed in March due to the COVID-19 restrictions in which a number of unplanned teenage pregnancies and marriages were recorded.
The academic institutions were reopened only for examination classes on September 7, almost five months of closure as one of the preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, whose strong wave of locally transmitted infections is declining.
“It’s regrettable that some girl candidates have failed to write the examinations,” said NyaLonje after visiting some PSLCE cluster centers in Nkhata Bay and Mzuzu City. “I would have loved if all girls had sat for these examinations.
She said the girls who dropped out were supposed to sit for the examinations even though they fell pregnant and were forced to get married, saying education is paramount above their conditions and that they will need education for them to fend for their children and families in future.
“As we prepare for Malawi School Certificate of Education Examinations, my Ministry will continue engaging non-governmental organisations and mother groups and other stakeholders to encourage girls who may be found in such conditions to sit for the examinations,” she said.
The Minister said she was impressed to note that the majority of the candidates turned up for the examinations, which will end on Thursday, October 2.
She also said she was pleased to note that all COVID-19 prevention protocols were being observed in the examination clusters as agreed between the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.
All clusters had hand washing facilities with candidates putting on face masks and sitting on desks at one meter apart distance among others.
“It is pleasing to also note that all candidates were displaying their examination identification cards; security and examination invigilators were present; there were enough examination papers and that large print examination papers were available for visually impaired candidates,” she said.
One of the candidates at Kavuzi cluster centre, Ethel Mhango said she was optimistic that she will pass the examinations though the examinations were being administered after the learners had just been in class for two weeks after a long break.
“When we came back from the prolonged holiday, most of us had become rusty from most of the topics we were taught before closure of the schools.
“But I an confident that I will still do well,” said Mhango, who is from Nkhokoma Primary School, which is a feeder school to Kavuzi cluster centre.
Some of the cluster centers which the Minister visited included Luwazi, Pundu, Kavuzi in Nkhata Bay, Katoto, Lunyangwa and Zolozolo in Mzuzu City.
Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB) public relations officer, Mayamiko Chiwaya said reports received from across the country indicate that the examinations started well without any challenges.
Around 302,968 registered candidates registered for the 2020 PSLCE across the country. Initially the examinations were supposed to be administered from 6 to 8 April, 2020.