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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

USA hands over 66 secondary schools to Malawi

By Fostina Mkandawire

Salima, January 29: The United States of America (USA) on Monday handed over 66 schools to the Malawi Government constructed under the K153 billion Secondary Education Expansion for Development (SEED) project aimed at enhancing equal access to education.

Presiding over the handover ceremony at Mkanga Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in the area of Senior Chief Kambwiri in Salima, President Dr Lazarus Chakwera commended USA for the continued commitment to enhancing the education sector in the country.

He said the 66 schools have propelled the country towards the Sustainable Development Goal number 4 on inclusive and equitable education, a development that will enhance education in the country.

“A partnership that produces 66 schools and serves the community from its educational troubles is worth noting. The US government has stayed true to the commitment of constructing schools without tribalism and regionalism something that is worth emulating in all the projects being implemented in the country,” he said.

Chakwera firmly advised communities where the schools have been constructed to take ownership by being custodians so that the progress made through the schools should be sustained.

Embassy of the USA to Malawi Charge d’Affaires, Amy Diaz, said shared commitment between Malawi Government and the USA is what has contributed to the success of the project.

She said Ministry of Education was involved in site selection for construction of the schools as well as providing their input in the design of the schools, a development that ensured that areas that had a dire need of schools were served without fail.

“School management committees will be trained on how to undertake proper maintenance of the facilities and provide oversight during maintenance,” she said.

About 27,000 students will now have access to secondary school education, a development Diaz said will improve access to secondary education.

She said, initially, by 2024 the plan was to construct 200 secondary schools unfortunately due to COVID-19 and global inflation there was a rise in cost of construction materials which slowed down the pace of construction thereby narrowing down number of schools which were supposed to be constructed.

“By the end of 2024 we will hand over 89 schools. The schools being constructed are only those in dire need of access to education and upgrading of overcrowded secondary schools,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Chaola Mdooko, said Ministry her ministry is dedicated to promote rural community access to quality education.

She said the ministry has taken strategic steps to ensure that challenges faced by girls and adolescents are addressed.

“My ministry identified urban crowded schools and those in the hard to reach areas to benefit from SEED project. We have ensured that well qualified teachers will be placed in these schools,” she said.

A Form One student, who will be accessing secondary school education at the newly handed over Mkanga CDSS, Susan James, said in the absence of the new school she was walking 10 kilometres to reach her school and was crossing impassable bridges during rainy season.

She, therefore, said her new school will be a safe space for her and fellow girls who were facing different threats.

SEED project, which commenced in 2019, handed over 30 schools in 2021. The 66 schools bring a total of 96 schools.

It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID and PEPFAR. It includes urban expansion and rural construction of CDSSs.

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