Ministry of Education says about 3 546 learners from both primary and secondary schools in the country died from various causes in the 2020/21 academic year, translating into about 10 deaths per day.
The ministry’s 2021 Annual School Census report shows that out of the 3 546 learners, 2 035 were boys and 1 511 girls.
The report indicates that of the 3 546 deaths, 3 331 were primary school learners comprising 1 904 males and 1 427 females with Lilongwe District registering the highest number of deaths at 555 deaths.
However, the report does not specify the possible causes of the learners’ deaths in the 2020/21 academic year.
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the Ministry of Health could provide the causes as most deaths occur in hospitals.
He said: “When somebody dies, particularly in hospital, the Ministry of Health knows the cause of death. Sometimes releasing the cause of death depends on the deceased’s family option.
“So, we might know that somebody [learner] died, but in terms of the reasons, the Ministry of Health might know.”
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said his ministry focuses much on data recorded for under-five deaths.
Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe expressed shock that 3 546 learners died in one academic year.
He said the number of learners’ deaths was alarming.
“It means there is a high attrition rate through deaths which could be as a result of so many other factors. But moving forward it is important that the government interrogates the causative factors,” Kondowe said.
According to the report, in the 2020/21 academic year, there were 4 956 667 and 392 229 primary and secondary school learners, respectively.