By Mwayi Gowelo
Blantyre, May 21, Mana: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in collaboration with UNICEF has launched an Emergency Radio Education Program (EREP) to allow students continue with their studies at home while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, the portfolio’s minister, William Susuwele Banda said the radio program was launched to encourage learners to concentrate on their studies while they are home.
“We are targeting primary school learners, specifically from standards 1-8 so that they should continue with their studies while at home,” the minister said, adding the ministry was planning to introduce a similar television program.
“We have also looked at the possibility of online learning though this has proved to be difficult because not every student has access to internet,” Banda said.
Apart from the radio program, he said his ministry plans to distribute print materials to students while it is considering setting up a television learning programme.
Banda added that the Ministry of Education wishes to continue with the radio programs even after schools re-open, saying they are not dependent on teachers, unlike the previous attempted radio learning programs.
“The program we have launched today directly addresses learners, hence no need for a teacher to be present,” he said.
According to Banda, the ministry will simply reschedule the program to ensure that after knocking off from school, learners may continue with their studies with the help of the radio.
The ministry has set up a task force to monitor the pandemic and the team is expected to inform the ministry of the best time to re-open the schools, according to Dr. Susuwele Banda.
“This task force is also responsible for guiding us in terms of measures that can be put in place to make sure that students are safe when they go back to school,” he said.
A representative of UNICEF Malawi, Rudolf Schwenk said the COVID-19 pandemic has globally affected children as their education is greatly interrupted.
He said almost 8 million school-age children that attend pre-primary, primary and secondary education in Malawi have been at home since March 23, this year.
“By working together, we can ensure that COVID-19 does not threaten the gains we have made in the education sector and also not threaten the dreams and hopes of millions of children and young people.”
Schwenk, therefore, commended government for prioritising the urgent need to ensure school- age children continue to learn despite closure of schools.
He cited the Emergency Radio Education Program as an innovative initiative to keep millions of children in a positive education routine.
It is expected that the program will serve almost six million children in primary schools across the country with focus on literacy, numeracy and science through Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Radio 1 and 2.