Government asked to extend this year’s national examinations period as Cyclone Freddy disrupts classes

Written by Collings Kalivute

A call has gone out to the government through the Ministry of Education to extend the period for this year’s National Examinations, following the recent devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy that ripped through Southern Malawi.

A rapid assessment of schools that the Ministry of Education conducted in the affected districts as of Friday, March 17th, 2023, showed that most structures such as classrooms and toilets are unsafe, which forced the ministry to extend further suspension of classes in the affected education districts to March 31st, 2023.

Cyclone Freddy victims seeking shelter at one of the nearby primary schools.

The report, which further indicated that 10 education districts were affected by the cyclone, revealed that about 230 schools were being used as holding camps for internally displaced communities.

An educationist, Charles Maluwa argues the damage caused by the disaster will likely affect the candidate’s preparations for the examinations.

Maluwa has since stressed the need for the government to consider extending the national examination period to allow learners in affected districts to heal from the calamity.

“A majority of the candidates have lost their learning materials besides the trauma experienced during the tragedy as such, it would be ideal for the government to extend the period for this year’s national examinations to allow learners to heal from the disaster”, said Maluwa.

Reacting to the call, Spokesperson in the Ministry of Education Mphatso Nkuonera said authorities are still assessing the extent of damage and will communicate on the way forward later.

Nkuonera: We are still assessing the damage caused.

Nkuonera said, “Officials from the Ministry of Education together with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) are still assessing the damage caused by the disaster to the education sector, after the assessment, the ministry will advise on the way forward”.

Meanwhile, the Independent Schools Association of Malawi (ISAMA) has asked the government to consider reopening schools that have not been affected by the disaster in Southern Malawi, arguing that it will affect student’s performance in their education.

But the Ministry of Education has maintained its stance and advised learners to continue following online and radio lessons, as it continues to work with District Councils, Development Partners and other stakeholders to mobilize support to meet the immediate minimum needs of the schools safe reopening.

According to the Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB), Primary School Leaving Certificate Education (PSLCE) examinations are scheduled to start on May 10th, 2023, Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examinations on May 30th, 2023 while Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations will on June 27th, 2023.

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