Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) says teachers in public primary and secondary schools are still owed about K1.7 billion in arrears for their promotions, deployments and failure to reconcile bank details dating back to 2010.
To push for the payment, TUM said teachers planned to go on strike from today as schools open for the second term of the 2017/18 academic year, but reversed their decision following government’s assurance that the arrears will be settled from this month end and will be finalised in February.
While not specifying the exact number of teachers affected, TUM general secretary Charles Kumchenga said those affected are on Initial Primary School Teachers Education (IPTE) 7 and Open Distance Learning (ODL) 2.
This means that teachers who government deployed August on IPTE 9 and ODL 4 are not part of the beneficiaries.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Kumchenga said: “There is commitment from government as we have noted that some letters have been sent to offices of DCs [district commissioners] to speed up audits to facilitate payment of the arrears since the system was decentralised.
“But if government will not honour its promises by next month end, then we are going to declare a dispute after monitoring how the payments have proceeded.”
He said the arrears were mostly accrued when government failed to adjust salaries of teachers promoted from their previous grades in secondary schools, failed to pay teachers who were deployed to various primary schools as they could start receiving salaries five or more months later and for teachers missing on the salary payroll in Chikwawa and Ntchisi in December 2016.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Ken Ndala, while acknowledging the arrears in a letter addressed to the teachers, said the decision to have the arrears processed at council level was done after being approached by a number of district education managers who had requested to collect unprocessed vouchers of salary arrears to finalise payment on their own.
Last year, teachers also went on strike, paralysing lessons in the public primary and secondary schools to push for their leave grants and other arrears.