Kalabo Central UPND member of parliament Chinga Miyutu yesterday wept on the floor of the House to register his dissatisfaction over long distances which pupils in his constituency had to walk to get to examination centres.
Miyutu, who failed to finish his question as he became too emotional, said it was unthinkable that pupils could walk 60 km to an exam centre in 2018.
During questions for oral answer, Miyutu asked Minister of General Education David Mabumba whether government was aware that Sihole Secondary School in Kalabo Central Parliamentary Constituency had not been designated as an examination centre for the 2018 final examinations due to lack of a science laboratory; whether the government would rectify this anomaly and if not, what measures had been taken to facilitate the writing of the 2018 final examinations at the School since the nearest examination centre is 60 kilometres away.
In response, Mabumba said Sihole Secondary School would not be accorded exam centre status this year due to the non operational lab.
“The government is aware that Sihole Secondary School has not been conferred with examination centre status for the 2018 grade 12 final examinations. The application of the examination centre status was submitted to the Examinations Council of Zambia however, it did not go through due to lack of operational laboratories. As you may be aware, for a school to be awarded Grade 12 examination centre status, such a school should have operational labs to be used for practice; examinations. This therefore made Sihole Secondary School ineligible to gain the centre status,” Mabumba said.
“In short, I wish to assure the honorable member for Kalabo that the government is going to rectify the anomaly. The school will have a centre status in 2019. Sihole Secondary School maintains the examination centre and at this stage, they will write their examinations at the same school. The 62 learners in the examination classes at Grade 12 level have been registered at Kalabo Boarding Secondary School. The management of Sihole Secondary School has made an arrangement with their colleagues at Kalabo Secondary School to have the learners be accommodated at the school during the examination period.”
But when he rose on a follow-up question, Miyutu was emotional and failed to finish his submission.
“Madam Speaker, I don’t know how the minister is feeling in responding to my questions with those responses which are positive. Madam Speaker, that is the same government which upgraded Sihole, the same government Madam Speaker is in charge of the Examinations Council. The same government, after upgrading Sihole fails to provide the necessary requisites for that school to be eligible for examination centre. Madam Speaker, is the minister aware that 60 km of walking is not worth it today in 2018, 54 years after independence? Is the minister aware that those children should not walk 60 km? Is the minister aware that those children are suffering for nothing?” Miyutu asked with tears rolling down his cheeks.
At this point, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala asked, “is the honorable member for Malabo shedding tears?”
Miyutu replied in the negative but continued to ask his question whilst crying and gasping for breath.
“No, I am not shedding tears, I am just asking the minister that is he aware that those children which the government is punishing for no offense done, they were not there Madam Speaker for them to face this punishment. 60 km Madam Speaker, on sand! They are going to write the examination Madam Speaker, in an environment that is new. They are going to face the teachers who are strange to them!” Miyutu wept as his colleagues passed running commentaries whilst others laughed.
“Madam Speaker…” Miyutu failed to finish his question as he paused to catch his breath.
His fellow MPs continued making running commentaries until Namugala called for order.
“Order! We will allow you to compose yourself. Would you like to conclude your question? asked Namugala but Miyutu said he was done.
In response, Mabumba said it was unfortunate that Miyutu had become emotional.
“Madam Speaker, it is regrettable that my colleague has shown so much emotion. His concern is the concern of the Minister of General Education. But to put matters into context, Sihole Secondary School was not there at all. The 62 children that we are talking about who were in Grade 12 now would not have been there or either they would have been in a boarding school in Kalabo so my colleague should be able to appreciate that not withstanding the challenges that the school has, our transformational agenda of increasing access at secondary school, this constituency has been a beneficiary. And Madam Speaker, we do recognize that these 62 children, if we didn’t have this school would have been in the streets,” said Mabumba.