By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi child guardians, under Children Owners Association of Malawi (COAM), has asked Independent Schools Association of Malawi (ISAMA) from allowing school administrators to reopen schools on July 13 as earlier suggested, saying life cannot wait but education can.
ISAMA wrote a letter on July 4 advising all private schools to open schools that were closed over four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 suggested a tentative date of July 13 to respond schools if the number of registered cases decline but the cases are now on the worrying levels of increase.
As of Sunday, Malawi has registered two new deaths COVID-19 cases from the 129 new cases registered within 24 hours and co-chairperson of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka this development calls upon everyone to take COVID-19 seriously.
In its statement on reopening of schools, ISAMA was asking the schools to adhere to the preventive measures that was set by the Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19 such as disinfecting the schools, mandatory wearing of face masks, provision of hand sanitizers and having good hygiene and sanitation at the school premises.
The association was also asking the schools health and nutrition teachers to to work hand in hand with health surveillance assistants.
However, COAM has strongly told ISAMA that while children have the right to education, the paramount right is life.
“Other rights, this includes the right to education, are exercised because there is life,” says COAM’s statement, signed by chairperson Dr. C. Padambo.
“Therefore, it is important to make sure that this right to life is protected by all means.”
COAM further reminded ISAMA that the world, including Malawi, is struggling with this deadly COVID-19 and that the schools in most parts of the world are closed.
“Therefore, the association would like to inform you and the general public that on 13th July 2020, no child should report for school.
“The school which will operate on that particular day will face us in the court of law because it will be like killing our own children, which is contrary to the right of life.
“Parents are also advised not to send their children to school on that said date, otherwise appropriate measures will be applied to them.
“We believe that life cannot wait while education can wait. The Malawi government, through the ministry of education in collaboration with ministry of health are the ones responsible to tell us on the exact date of opening schools after thorough investigations,” says the COAM statement.
The Ministry of Education also told the public that the schools will not reopen as earlier planned and communicated.
In a statement, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Justin Saidi that the official reopening of schools shall be made public by government after careful analysis on the status of the pandemic.
In his update made on Sunday, Dr. Phuka said the new deaths are both females, one each from Lilongwe and Blantyre that occurred on July 2 and that there are no recoveries.
Of the new cases, 48 are from Lilongwe, 41 from Blantyre, 15 from Mzuzu, 10 from Mzimba South, four in Mwanza, two each from Mangochi, Nkhata Bay, Balaka and Thyolo, one each from Neno, Zomba and Dedza.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 1,742 cases including 19 deaths, 317 recoveries and 1406 active cases.
The country has so far conducted 16,807 COVID-19 tests in 39 COVID-19 testing sites.
Following the rise in the cases, President Lazarus Chakwera cancelled this year’s Independence Day Celebrations that were scheduled for Monday at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.