HUMAN Rights activist Brebner Changala says schools must re-open because any damage to the education system will destroy the country’s basic structure of fundamental development.

Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on schooling, Changala said keeping schools closed for a long time would destroy the country’s basic structure of fundamental development.

“The (General Education) PS had a valid point and we have a generation to protect in terms of academic excellence. If you have seen the entire world, which is affected by COVID-19, before any major institution comes to full operation, they started with the education sector because any damage to the education system will destroy the country’s basic structure of our developmental fundamentals. I agree with the PS that COVID-19 has come to stay. And he used a very good basis for his argument. He said we allowed those who are in examination classes to go back to school and we have never had a fatality from this exercise, which is more or less experimental and we successfully succeeded,” Changala said in an interview.

And he appealed to all parents to support calls for schools to re-open, adding that learners should not be exposed to society’s challenges for too long.

“I am of the view that as a country or as parents, we need to support the stance that schools must re-open. We need to send back our children to school because the damage is two-fold. These children, who have been kept from school, are very young. They are being mixed and mingling with the elderly and the unemployed. And the level of despondence in this country is very high. So, we should not mix them with the challenges that we are facing in terms of unemployment, lack of basic needs and so on. There are many challenges that this COVID-19 has brought in this country and we must not add on these challenges to this delicate generation of young people,” said Changala.

Last week, General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba said that the COVID-19 pandemic should not be allowed to derail other forms of development.

“We should preach one thing [that] schools must be opened, otherwise, a good number of people will lose employment. And when they lose employment, what are the consequences of that? It’s like we have looked at COVID-19 as a big mountain. It shouldn’t raise fear to me [that the cases are rising every day because] COVID-19 has come to stay, but other developmental programmes must continue. That’s the meaning of the new normal,” said Kalumba.