Malawi government through the minister of Education have signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TNM to introduce e-learning in Malawi in the wake of COVID-19.
However, an analyst based in Dublin, Ireland has doubted the effectiveness of the system as it will benefit the advantaged. The analyst, has however predicted a public outcry and total failure to the proposal.
HERE IS THE SPEECH OF THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION
It is my pleasure to be with you all this morning at the beginning of a momentous journey for the nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me start by thanking every one of you present here for coming to be part of this great journey that aims at building and sustaining a great future for our children. I know in the prevailing circumstances we are all busy and critically, affected by the covid-19 pandemic, but the fact that we are all here on this course, accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks on my own behalf as well as the government.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as we are all aware, President Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, working on the need to prevent the spread of coronavirus, took a decision to close all schools, colleges including technical colleges, both public and private universities from Monday, 23rd March 2020.
To this end, over 5.4 million children, youth and adults in the country, have not been attending schools or universities as a result of COVID-19 precautionary measures.
The closure of schools means that the number of school days during this academic year will be less than what was planned thereby negatively impacting on teaching and learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry understands the adverse effects COVID-19 pandemic presents to the education sector including disruption of learning at all levels.
My ministry realizes that children are the future of this nation and that without education, the future of any country is doomed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my ministry is working closely with a number of partners in coming up with a number of innovative solutions to keep our children busy with lessons while at home.
These partners that include UNICEF, Save the Children Fund, VSO and NEPAD have been key to coming up with these solutions include learning through Radio, Television, Printed Materials and Online.
Ladies and Gentlemen, additionally my ministry has also received great support from the private sector especially the telecommunications sector in the name of TNM PLC who have graciously and selflessly offered to provide free access to online education content to students in order to access lessons.
To TNM, I say Thank You on behalf of the government of Malawi.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to talk in detail about the interventions that my ministry has put in place to enable continuous learning for our learners and students. Of course, having just signed an MoU with TNM a few minutes ago, let me start with the online learning.
All students from Form 1-4, will be able to access lessons through the ministry’s website; www.education.gov.mw where the lessons have been uploaded at no data cost. The only determinant will be for you have either a TNM number, then you are good to go.
Secondly, Ladies and Gentlemen, my ministry is in the final stages of developing radio lessons through the Malawi College of Distance Education (MCDE) that will cover the primary school sector. These will be lessons that will bring the teacher directly interfacing with the learner through the radio programmes.
We will have these programmes on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and other radio stations. A detailed schedule providing actual broadcast times will be provided by my ministry soon.
On television Ladies and Gentlemen, my ministry is working with a number of players that include MCDE, Malawi Digital Broadcast Network Limited (MDBNL), Padziwe and other media houses in developing television content as a way of reaching out to those who would prefer education content through television.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the ministry is also working with VSO International who will provide 10, 000 tablets starting with an initial 1,000 tablets that will be provided to primary school learners in rural areas complete with solar charging.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and not to leave anybody behind, my ministry realizes that there are other rural remote areas who have difficulties in accessing any of the technologies mentioned above. Through MCDE, we are also working on print materials, that will be distributed directly to the students in their locations through their teachers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sailing through an unprecedented situation in the education sector that my ministry is responding to the best of its capabilities with support from its partners – Let us work together.
All others who are not yet on board, please, I call upon you to join us in securing the future for our children.
Ladies and Gentlemen, further to the above, I would like to directly appeal to parents and guardians, to monitor and guide their children and dependants during this difficult period. There will be no physical teacher to guide the students like it is in a classroom situation. Therefore, it is important that you all provide the necessary guidance to the students to make sure they are concentrating and paying attention to the lessons be it television, radio, online or print material.
The ministry is depending on you. Failure or success of these interventions depend on you. The future of this nation rests on your shoulders.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Lastly, the Ministry would like to call upon all stakeholders, Education Managers (Division and district), Civil Society Organizations, Faith Based Organizations, Development Partners, Political Leaders, Academic Institutions, Communities and Parents to follow necessary guidance to participate in all the interventions and ensure continuity of learning and transition from school closure to re-opening.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, the ministry would like to urge all leaners, students, teachers, partners, stakeholders and the general public, to observe and adhere to all the hygiene messages being given out by the Ministry of Health. Best of it all; stay home.
Together, we will win this fight.
I thank you all for your attention.
May God Bless You All!!!!!