Parliamentary Education Committee chairperson Brainnex Kaise says they will go back to the drawing board to see how best they can help resolve the teachers personal protective equipment (PPE) allowance impasse.
This follows TUM’s announcement on Wednesday that it will resume its strike demanding PPE allowances after a seven-day notice as per the country’s labour laws.
In an interview yesterday, Kaise said they are saddened with the twist in the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) allowances issue which the committee hoped would be resolved by now.
He said the committee now plans to meet and find the best way possible to resolve the matter, adding the issue in question affects the nation and needs to be handled seriously.
Said Kaise: “Schools have been closed on several occasions and it is sad that the schools should be closed again. We hope that TUM and the Ministry of Education will use the window available to resolve the matter so that learners are not affected further.”
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Education and Social and Community Affairs on March 8 engaged TUM and the Ministry of Education to have teachers suspend the strike while government looked into the PPE allowances. The committee was concerned that the impasse was affecting learners.
In a statement issued by Parliament on March 10, addressed to TUM, Ministry of Education and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Kaise stated that the meeting resolved that instead of providing PPE to teachers, government should give them money for three months to procure PPE and that the proposal be reviewed by the task force.
Following the resolution, TUM agreed to suspend the strike while the task force decided how much to give the teachers. But Kaise stated that the task force did not approve that teachers should be given a cash equivalent of PPE, resulting in TUM’s decision to resume the strike.
However, Kaise said yesterday that the committee is not blaming anyone for the impasse, adding the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 may have justifiable reasons for not approving the allowances for teachers.
On his part, TUM president Willie Malimba said the challenge is that government is taking the issue lightly.
He said: “As TUM, we will wait and see the next step that the committee will take because we are passionate about the issue. The parliamentary committee know that our concerns are genuine.”
Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe told The Nation on Wednesday that President Lazarus Chakwera is key to resolving the matter, urging him to provide guidance and ensure that learners are not affected.
TUM has indicated that it is committed to continued dialogue within the notice period.