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Council plans to construct boarding facility for disaster affected learners

Zomba District Council says it is planning to construct boarding facility at Chisi Island to accommodate learners whose classes are mostly disrupted in times of floods on Lake Chilwa as was the case with Tropical Cyclone Freddy disaster.

Speaking during the Full Council Meeting, Chairperson of Development Committee, Macferson Sulumba said due to continued disruption of classes at Chisi Island the council would like to have a boarding facility that would accommodate learners in times of disasters.

Sulumba cited Tropical Cyclone Freddy as the case of concern which disrupted classes at schools Chisi, Chinguma and Ngotangota schools when rising waters in Lake Chilwa forcing total closure of the schools.

He added that rising waters in the Lake Chilwa heavily affected learners especially those in Standard 8 who were preparing to sit for Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations.

Zomba Full Council meeting discussing plans to construct boarding facility. Pic, Solister Mogha (Mana)

“The facility is meant to accommodate learners only in times of disasters. The decision is as a result of the experience during tropical Cyclone Freddy. Learners were accommodated at St Michael’s Primary School to prepare for their examinations,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Zomba Lisanjala. Dr. William Susuwele Banda while acknowledging the importance of the facility asked the council to critically look into what the Education Policy says about establishment of boarding facility in primary schools.

Dr. Banda further said the council should also look into who will be responsible for feeding learners at the proposed boarding facility.

“Boarding facility is expensive to manage and this is why some schools are struggling to keep learners in such facilities. Will parents going to bear the responsibility, have we done research on that,” the MP asked.

Director of Education, Youth and Sports, Thomas Mbwembwe said although there is no policy on boarding facility for primary schools, the case of Chisi Island is exceptional especially considering access to quality education.

“Much as we know there is no policy, but this issue has to be carefully looked into. In terms of who will be responsible… obviously parents will be responsible unless a partners come into support,” he said.

During Tropical Cyclone Freddy schools on Chisi Island were disturbed and this compelled school authority to closure the schools for learners’ safety but at the expense of child education.  

Standard 8 learners at Chisi were affected for about three months and were forced to leave their homes and join the other school upland to prepare for PSLCE examinations.

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