SPECIAL REPORT: When Zomba Islamic High School Becomes a Shame to the Muslim Community

That's Zomba High School
That’s Zomba High School

“The right to a quality education is, I believe, the perfect path to bridge the gap between different cultures and to reconcile various civilizations. Without such a right, the values of liberty, justice and equality will have no meaning. Ignorance is by far the biggest danger and threat to humankind,” says Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned

But when does one become aware of the correct place to access the quality education? There are many questions against a handful answers to the topic.

If you were dreaming of sending your Muslim child to Zomba Islamic High School, then you would take a break and think twice before making such a grave mistake.

Send your child only if you don’t care or love him, otherwise you might better consider throwing him at any other institution provided it has quality education.

Situated in the Eastern Region of Malawi in Zomba district, Muslim Association of Malawi’s Zomba Islamic High School is no longer a learning institution it used to be. The institution is now skeleton that cannot bear any fair name in our modern World of 21 first century.

Despite called Zomba Islamic High School when it was established some years ago, one would wonder as to why the institution still bears the name high when it is in low state, as for it to carry the word ‘high’ in its dilapidated state is a mockery to the Muslim families who depend on the institution to school their children.

Victor Hugo once said, “He who opens a school door closes a prison.”

But with Zomba Islamic High School, you may write a novel just to argue with Hugo as the institution is no more than a prison itself.

Toilets that stopped working sometime ago. Is it a different from  toilets in Police cells?

A recent visit by Malawi Muslims Official Website showed that the school is nothing than a hell on earth for students.

The available dirty-classes at the campus have no glasses.

A snap check at the hostel depicts how miserable life could be if one is sent to the learning institution.

If you look at where the students spend their night and you can’t afford to shed tears then you don’t deserve to be called a human.

With broken doors and no glasses in the windows frames, the hostels are open to predators and other outside invasions.

Then just think how life can be for students during this rainy season?

“We sometimes suffer from different diseases like Malaria and during rainy season, life becomes so unbearable. The whole room is filled with water as you see we don’t have glasses in the windows nor window frames. We use only one bulb to light whole this big room. The wall is dirty and we don’t have even books at the Library,” says Jannat Osman who came all the way from Mangochi to access ‘quality education’.

That’s one of the dirt walls

But why is he still sticking to the same school?

“This is what my parents can afford,” he says, adding “they can’t afford to send me to other expensive schools. So, we have no option. And being Islamic school, sometimes we do have many hopes that we will be able to practicing our religion without hindrances.”

Looking at the roof from where Osman is narrating his sad story, one would also see it might fall apart any time due to the rotten wood (timber) that is supporting it.

One of basic facilities at any school is a toilet. At Zomba High School, despite having a number of toilet rooms, life becomes hard as most of them stopped working a decade ago.

Sanitation is in shambles and the lives of the students are at risk of contracting water – borne diseases like cholera during rainyseason.

As an institution, that has currently 163 students on board has become a shame, as students who are supposed to live comfortable, are denied their right due to a bad smell that comes out from the broken sewage tanks.

This is where your child spend his night

From the challenges that surround that campus one might also wish to rest which is not a case at the institution. The rooms have broken beds that no one can get a sleep as worse still, the school has no mattresses.

The calamities have not only affected students, the staff too is also swimming in the ocean of these problems.

Looking what they call Staff Room, you may not dare to look it twice and you wonder what these teachers do when they are in that office.

The bookshelves are empty and the office leaks during rainy season – worn out ceilings. Its roof reveals it all.

The so called staff room

And at the end, you expect them to produce next Fahad Assani of this country?

But is MAM aware of this? Then how is it doing to curb these problems?

Radh Kang’omba is the MAM’s Education Cordinator.

“Indeed, we have problems with Zomba Islamic High School. This is because the school is sustaining itself through contributions the students make per term but still not enough. Food items, salaries and other bills are coming from the same money – it has no a donor. But we have tried to write proposals to different potential donors though nothing tangible has happened as of now,” said Kang’omba.

Despite the students being asked to pay MK40, 000 as tuition fees per term, the money is not enough to meet all the expenses.

This website has even learnt that the teachers stay up to three months without getting their salary.

Is this how life should be?

Outside shot of one of the dilapidated hostels

“This is why I always say and I will not stop to appeal for contributions from the Muslim community. How will we be depending on foreign donors only yet we have our own local individuals and orgnisations who can afford to do this? Problems in our community will not end until we change our mindset – opting for giving hearts and not just receiving,” says MAM’s National Chairman.

Indeed, only if Muslims in the country opt to change their mindset, stop personalising issues and holding personal grudges, then there will  be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Marshall Dyton, writing from one of the dilapidated hostels at Zomba High School.

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