The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) Secretary-General, Bishop Gilford Matonga has urged all churches and institutions to conduct Sunday schools according to their discretion and capacity while observing procedures, rules and regulations set by the government to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Tuesday, Matonga said taking a universal approach to ban Sunday school in all churches will be a violation of the right for the children and institutions which have the capacity to hold Sunday school sessions.
“We are all looking at the general principle that is being taught out there; should churches decide to hold Sunday school sessions then the issue of social distancing and number of kids in one room is very critical.
“…and we have seen that kids are able to follow things and learn quickly when they have been allowed to go to Sunday school. So, yes each church has a right to choose what they think is best looking at their capacity instead of outright banning kids to go to Sunday school,” he said.
Matonga said churches and institutions should be mindful of the children’s health when they are making their decisions, suggesting that churches should use other means like engaging parents to communicate with their children while at home.
“Sunday school is there to supplement the weakness of parental guidance and teaching but where there is no possibility to conduct Sunday school then let the parents take up the responsibility of educating the kids from home,” he said.
“The virus is deadly; we have all seen that. Therefore, we shouldn’t take chances. If it gets to the children and the children are not properly prepared, then we will be putting ourselves in a serious problem,” Matonga added.
Director of Sunday School at Christ the King Anglican Church in Blantyre, Joyce Namachapa said MCC has given thoughtful advice to the churches and institutions, saying much as teaching children the word of God is very important, prevention is better than cure.
“Many kids at one particular place could be difficult to control, but if parents can take up the role to teach their kids from home just like what the normal schools have done then we are good.
“This is a temporary measure; soon we shall get back to our normal routine,” added Namachapa.
She cited an example of her class where she has about 50 kids in a single room, looking at the size of the room then the recommended one-metre spacing cannot be applied as such Sunday school has temporarily been suspended at the church.
On March 19, 2020, President Peter Mutharika declared COVID-19, the Coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and has since banned gatherings of more than 100 people as the disease continues to spread around the world and more countries in Africa confirming cases that have tested positive.
Currently, Malawi has not registered any case.