Government of Malawi has commended the Roman Catholic Church in Malawi for initiating various development projects aimed at improving the social and economic livelihoods of the people.
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola and Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Chaola-Mdooko, observed that the Catholic Church has been the largest partner of the government in transforming lives through various programs.
Matola and Chaola-Mdooko made the remarks at Dzenza Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Dedza when Sopowerful Foundation handed over a solar-powered electricity project to the school on Saturday.
The Diocese of Dedza, which runs Dzenza CDSS, secured financing for the solar electricity from Sopowerful Foundation in response to the students’ outcry that lack of electricity at the school is negatively affecting their performance as they could not study during the night.
Thus, in his remarks at the launch, Matola – who was also the Guest of Honour at the event – advised the learners to jealously guard the equipment against vandalism and theft.
“Use this facility to the best of your interest and capabilities in your studies. And don’t allow anyone to vandalize or steal this equipment because that will ruin your future,” he said.
In her remarks, Chaola-Mdooko said the ‘Tonse Government led by His Excellency, President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, through my ministry has embarked on a secondary education expansion drive’.
The Deputy Minister disclosed that, among others, the ministry is constructing new secondary schools and expanding the existing ones.
“In addition, my ministry is strengthening open and distance e-learning as an alternative mode of delivering secondary education. We believe that this will help to increase access and improve quality of education in this country. In addition to constructing science laboratories, my Ministry is working on expanding virtual and digital laboratory space, which Mzuzu University with financial support from the UNDP has developed more so considering the high cost of constructing physical laboratories,” she said.
She, however, admitted that the ministry is facing myriad challenges to provide quality education to all, citing lack of electricity as one of them.
Chaola-Mdooko stated that only 68 percent of the secondary schools in Malawi are connected to ESCOM power while 12 percent use solar energy and the other one percent use fuel powered generators and that another 19 percent are not connected to any form of electricity.
“My ministry, through the first ten years of the MW2063 (MIP1), intends to install not only electricity to all schools, but also internet in order to improve the education delivery. With electricity, classes can be conducted early in the morning or at the convenience of the learners and the teacher alike. Equally important is the fact that evening studies are possible where electricity is available.
“In addition, electricity enables the use of modern mass media tools in the classroom, such as the internet and televisions. As a matter of fact, schools with electricity can outperform non-electrified schools on key educational indicators, and can in some cases enable broader social and economic development of communities,” said the Deputy Minister.
While commending the financiers of the solar project, a students’ representative, Evelyn Maliseni, pleaded with the Malawi Government to address a problem of inadequate classroom blocks, lack of a laboratory, lack of computers and lack of a girls’ hostel at the school.
Maliseni said some female students are operating in rented houses where they are facing theft of their property, sexual harassment and exorbitant rental charges by the house owners as well as poor conditions of the houses.
“We therefore request well-wishers to come in and assist in the completion of the structures. The hostels will indeed help us to have more time for studies as well study circles because we will be at the same place and in return improve our performance which at this moment in time is challenged,” she said.
In his remarks, Diocesan Education Coordinator, Father Joseph Billiat, begged the government to construct a fence at the school to address disturbances that learners and teachers experience from passersby.
Chaola-Mdooko has assured that her ministry will look into the requests and will act accordingly.
Meanwhile, Sopowerful Foundation Executive Director, Stefano Cruccu, has pledged to bring piped water to the area, which is under Traditional Authority Kaphuka.