Private school owners in the country have expressed concern that closure of their schools this Monday in the face of the contagious coronavirus would gravely affect their businesses and disrupt school calendar.
Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) president Joseph Patel said in an interview yesterday that the closure directed by President Peter Mutharika on Friday when he declared State of Disaster was anticipated and is a commendable decision.
He said: “But we cannot run away from expressing our concerns that we have received it with a pinch of salt. We are already receiving calls from our members, inquiring how government is going to assist them to survive when their source of income is shut down but have employees to pay.
“We saw it coming when most countries in Africa started closing schools. We are lucky in Malawi this has come a little late and we are lucky because we have not registered a case yet.”
Patel advised students as they travel home and during their stay at home to always follow guidelines government issued as precautionary measures to prevent the virus and practise what they learnt in their respective schools.
Meanwhile, Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) executive director Gerald Chiunda disclosed in an interview yesterday that examination calendars for Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLC) examinations have been suspended.
The MSCE candidates were supposed to sit for their examinations from June 23 to July 16 2020 while PSLCE candidates were scheduled to sit for their examinations from May 20, 21 and 22.
Maneb earlier revised the dates for PSLCE and set May 6, 7 and 8, due to a presidential election case that was in court, but Chiunda explained yesterday that with the latest development about the closure of schools, these dates would again be affected; hence, the suspension.
He said candidates need to finish curriculum and prepare for examinations, adding that examinations are not done in vacuum but within a context.
The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), a Christian umbrella organisation for evangelical churches and christian organisations that seeks to mobilise, unite and equip churches and organisations for the holistic proclamation of the love of God, in Christ, through word and deeds, has supported the President’s declaration of State of disaster.
EAM secretary general the Reverend Francis Mkandawire, said in an interview yesterday that being the first time to happen, it would be tough to adhere to the directive that gatherings that include churches, weddings and funerals should have less than 100 people.
He said: “It will inconvenience our members greatly. This has never happened before. But government and the churches have to work together to ensure this is complied. We have to be helped how we can limit attendance. Coronavirus is deadly and we cannot afford to take chances.
“We share the President’s concerns, the action taken is important. As churches, there were already measures we put in place, we’ll continue adhering to those measures,” Mkandawire said.
Mkandawire warned Malawians not to take the current situation as business as usual as the pandemic has devastated great nations with sound economies. But while government is taking drastic measures to ensure the nation is safe from the coronavirus that has so far claimed over 9 000 lives globally, popular chain stores in the country, busy market places and public transport remain hotspots that should give policymakers headache.