They say education is the key to success. But how would you succeed if your right to education is being violated in one way or the other.
Right to education is not only violated when a child is deprived the chance to go to school and attend classes but also when this child is subjected to poor learning conditions that make the learning process difficult for pupils.
Violation of the right to education has been prevalent in many primary schools in Malawi and Lupaso Local Education Authority (L.E.A) Primary School happens to be one of such.
Lupaso LE.A. Primary School’s deputy head, Benson Safa highlighted the issue saying that due to the limited class blocks which the school has, some classes are conducted outside under trees so as not to obstruct the learning process.
“We have a lot of pupils here at Lupaso Primary who surpass 1, 500. As a result class blocks fail to contain all of them that is why we end up making classes outside under trees,” he said.
Conducting classes outside exposes pupils to many challenges that affect their learning process. During outside classes, pupils get distracted by a number of things and Esther Chaseka, a student at Lupaso acknowledges that sometimes rain disturb classes.
“As pupils, when learning outside we get distracted by passersby since the school has no fence which makes us not get what the teacher is teaching and when rains come it means that classes are over for us,” she said.
Although the school has some blocks, the number of pupils learning in each class block is very high that the teacher-pupil ratio aspect is high which does not take into account covid -19 preventive measure of social distance.
Safa’s remarks said the high number of pupils in classrooms is as a result of few teachers at the school.
“Here at Lupaso Primary we have very few teachers, 22 to be precise which make it hard for a class to have like 30 or 40 pupils, hence we allow classes to contain more than 50 pupils but still more others are left out and learn outside due to the limited blocks that we have,” he said.
Safa further added that although they are in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, there is nothing they can do so as to observe social distancing since the school has limited class blocks as well as teachers and concluded that they are still backwards in the fight against the pandemic.
“These pupils come here to learn, we cannot select a few students out of them to be teaching hence for every student to access education we do the needful which is to contain them all in a single block and others outside,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that the government promised to provide tents so that they may be used in this corona virus era, but up to now the tents are nowhere to be seen.
“The government said it will give us tents to be using during this period since we have a lot of pupils, but we are still waiting for those tents for they have not arrived yet,” Safa said.
As a result of this subjection of students to poor learning conditions, the pass rate for Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLC) at Lupaso has been awful that only 16 students out of 75 managed to pass 2020 Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations.
This shows that these harsh learning environments severely contributed to the low performance of pupils.
As a school, Lupaso is pleading to the government of Malawi and other well-wishers to assist them by constructing extra school blocks so that all pupils may be learning in classes.
By Catherine Kumwendo,Natash Banda and Janet Nyirenda