No Covid-19 PPE, risk allowance; no teaching
Poet Felix Mnthali once sung that there is nothing more undoable than an occasion whose time has come. Six months after schools were closed and teachers virtually demobilised, without consultation, our time, as teachers has come. We, who shape society and leaders, will soon assume our posts and responsibilities which we have shouldered for years with humility and tenacity even in times of extreme exploitation, denigration, and oppression.
We will not repeat mentioning how we are treated by even messengers and guards at Capital Hill, in district education management offices, and even at primary education advisory offices by our fellow primary school level teachers. We will stomach our anger because ours is missionary work. We are probably the only professionals who get extremely pleased to see others succeed and surpass us.
However, this time around we are not going back to classes to teach until certain conditions have been fulfilled. There is money for Covid-19. It has been shared by many. We see vehicles driving around in the name Covid-19 prevention.
Our demand; our request is simple. All teachers should receive personal protective gear so that their lives are not at risk. Police officers, nurses, doctors and even electoral commission officials made similar demands and their wishes were granted. We demand the same.
Also, we, the teachers, will not resume our work until we are assured of risk allowances. Our colleagues in the army, police, hospitals and prisons have made similar demands and they have been paid. This time alone, it is allowance number one; teaching number two.
Unlike lawyers, journalists, prostitutes, sorry sex workers, and grave diggers, we, the teachers, have no honest organisation and no person authentic, ethical, and committed enough to speak for us.
So, do not go through the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) because its secretariat officials are more interested in advancing their personal interests than in serving us.
For years, TUM officials have aligned themselves with political parties and advanced political interests. Some even became party officials during the regime of Bakili Muluzi.
Neither should you go to the Malawi Congress Party, sorry Malawi Congress of Trades Unions (MCTU), because the MCTU has never been interested in the plight of teachers.
Don’t even bother going to the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) because for PAC public affairs means one and only thing: political affairs.
No organisation is interested in our affairs. Most people think we are stupid, non-reactive, and passive idiots.
The only people who really care about us are our own students. Our students are our power. Our defence.
In fact, we don’t need intermediaries because our demands for risk allowance and PPE are non-negotiable as they deal with our right to life.
Take us very seriously. We are not threatening or hoodwinking anybody. We are not boycotting work. We are just doing what members of every organised profession have demanded and received. Even politicians receive their Covid-19 allowances and PPEs, including simple-looking but critically important apparel like mouth and nose masks.
Should government and other concerned parties, who have been very generous to other professionals, fail to give us that which belongeth unto us, we shall ask our constituents, the students, not to come to school because no one will teach them ad infinitum. If they choose, they may even march in the streets of Manyamula, Bwengu, Titi, Mwalija, Ndawambe, Markka, Jali, Neno, Chitukukutu, and Mbayani.
What we want is that the teachers at Ntchuka Junior Primary (JP) School should be treated the same way as teachers at St Mary’s FP School. PPE and risk allowance for St Mary’s in Malawi urban, and PPE and risk allowance for Ntchuka JP teachers in Malawi rural should be the same because the risk is the same.