The stand-off between Anglican Parish and the Muslim communities in Balaka refuses to die as M’manga Primary School remains closed for five weeks.
Last Thursday Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) officials, community members and the two faith groups met to resolve the differences.
However, on Tuesday, learners from the primary and community day secondary school (CDSS) blocked the Liwonde-Mangochi Road, demanding reopening of classes.
M’manga CDSS deputy head teacher Golden M’manga said that on Sunday there was an announcement in churches around Mangochi Turn-Off asking learners to report for classes Monday.
“Instruction given was that learners should come with their parents so that they can pledge their wards will not put on hijab. On Monday everything went on well, however, on Tuesday the primary education advisor (PEA) came with news that the District Education Manager (DEM) had instructions that schools should remain closed until further notice,” he said.
Father Mphatso Bango of M’manga Anglican Parish said the riots were provoked by instructions teachers received from the DEM that they should not teach.
Abdus-salaam Fadweck, Muslim Association of Malawi Hijab Task Force spokesperson, said their stand remains that the schools should reopen without violating rights of Muslim female learners to wear hijab.
“We all know the last meeting agreed that schools should remain closed for a week waiting for MoEST determination and we [Muslims] respect that,” he said.
PEA Ernest Matope said the DEM instructed him to tell the head teachers to close the school.
“Instruction came from MoEST through the DEM who phoned me,” he said.