By Leonard Masauli – Mana.
Sharon Chirwa from Karonga would have graduated in 2023 and her hopes and mindset were glued to such a day when she would finally bid farewell to her books and sleepless nights.
However, her calculation towards her graduation day seems going beyond the year 2023.
Her dream towards earning a degree in Computer Engineering at Livingstonia University is delayed by two to three semesters.
“I was supposed to graduate in 2023. But as things are my dreams are folded towards unknown future.
“The School mood has vanished and it shall be very difficult to maintain the same level I was. When this Covid-19 comes to an end, our lives will not be the same again. Some would be married because they will lose hope for education,” Chirwa lamented.
She said it would be expensive to start all over again, looking at how much parents are to invest in the food, books and lodging among other daily upkeep.
This means all the money paid in the semester she was in, has gone down in the drain.
But Chirwa is not alone in this quandary and other students from different Universities are experiencing the same pain in the uncertainty of the future for their education.
The coming of Covid-19 has compromised everything on the globe, and education is one part which has greatly been impacted.
Globally schools were closed to ensure the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic was lessened.
Similarly, numerous learners in Primary, Secondary schools and Universities were sent home for safety until the virus was contained.
But four months down the line, things have gone worse. A number of pupils in primary and secondary schools as well as University, are seen loitering in towns and locational streets.
The hope of returning to school anytime soon, is a farfetched dream.
A student from Chancellor College, Faith Nkhata said things are complicated in as far as school is concerned.
“The mood for school has completely gone off. We wish government should find other means to help us,” she viewed.
Another student from Mzuzu University, Chilungamo Misi said government did well to close schools to protect the learners from further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said as things are government need to find alternative measures of opening schools.
Standard Eight learners and Form 4 Students were supposed to sit for Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLC) as well as Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations in the month of May and June respectively.
The fear of the learners adopting irresponsible behaviour, early pregnancies and alcohol and substance abuse cannot be put off.
One concerned parent, Andrew Banda, whose son was to sit for Form Four examinations in June said It was quite painful and frustrating.
He said even though as parents they encourage the children to read in readiness of their examinations but it seems the morale has gone down with the closure of schools due to Covid-19.
“My worry as a parent is that many students will likely not make it to University because of this development. I would love if the Malawi Ministry of Education can come up with some measures so that all classes that have got final exams should resume,” Banda suggested.
He said the Ministry could restrict number of students in class and come up with several class-learning shifts, buy washing buckets and masks for every student on daily basis or disinfect all the classes before use.
Banda said should the period of school closure take so long, many girls would likely indulge themselves in immoral behaviors that may result to early marriages and unwanted pregnancies.
Another parent, Sydney Simwaka said the uncertainties of education due to Covid-19 bleeds fear, loss of direction amongst both parents and students.
He said government should make a concrete decision and at a supersonic speed by devising ways to control this pandemic in schools and let schools open.
“This will lead to increased dropout rate due to early pregnancies, and adding to that, schools will not be able to catch up with Syllabus resulting in poor performance of the learners during examinations,” Simwaka said.
Civil Society Organization on Education has spoken on the consideration for government to open schools for fear that a number of learners might go astray.
Government through the Ministry of Education has instituted a taskforce committee to look at the possibilities of re-opening the schools.
To ensure learners are a breast with school syllabus materials even in homes and Ministry of Education launched online lessons to ensure the students are able to follow.
The idea received mixed reactions from parents and some learners, as internet services are expensive in the country and that bigger populations of the students are in rural communities where they might not be conversant with internet services.
A concerned parent, Musa Chimbiya said the Covid-19 impact was very devastating saying even though government has introduced online classes, video as well as radio classes, in the village children have no time for such programmes and in many areas there are no such gadgets.
Schools were closed on March 23, 2020 following rising cases of Covid-19 in the country.