Amid growing concerns of dwindling education standards, primary and secondary school teachers today started staging their nationwide sit-in to compel government to resolve a number of grievances.
Spot checks in various schools in Areas 6, 18, 47 and 49 confirmed the boycott in protest of government’s failure to resolve issues surrounding promotions, salaries and leave grants.
In random interviews with The Nation on their way home from their respective schools, the learners condemned government for victimising their teachers.
The learners also accused authorities at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of deliberately “violating our right to education because their children and wards learn abroad”.
“The teachers told us they are not receiving their dues; hence, the sit-in. They said they would only report for duties after government fully meets its obligations,” said one of the learners at Kalonga LEA School in Area 49.
“This is injustice of the highest order. Government cannot just sit watching when our right to education is being violated,” added another learner at Chatuwa Full Primary School in Area 18B.
Teachers in the country have hailed TUM leadership for the decision it has taken on the matter.
“We feel government takes our patience for granted. Now it’s time to teach them a lesson,” said a primary school teacher from Nkhamenya in Kasungu who did not want to be mentioned.
Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) president Willie Malimba vowed that teachers will not return to work until government pays them their dues in full.
“Of course, we share the pupils’ concerns. But there is nothing we can do now. We have had enough of government lies. We’re not returning to work until government addresses our grievances,” said Malimba.
The union has been battling its mother ministry over 24 grievances including among them ; withdrawal of teachers’ promotions, failure by government to effect salary adjustments for the teachers promoted in 2013, failure by the ministry to pay leave grants to secondary school teachers for the 2015/16 financial year ending June 30 2016 and delayed payment of salary arrears for primary school teachers.
TUM also expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the ministry handled promotions and salary adjustments for teachers promoted to Grade TJ/PT2 in 2013.
Government demanded that the promoted teachers should move to rural-based schools using personal finances, adding that teachers who failed to comply with this requirement had their promotions withdrawn.
Meanwhile, TUM has emphasised that government shall take ‘full responsibility of the aftermath of this industrial action’ through its negligence in dealing with the matter with the urgency it deserved.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe in an earlier interview backed the teachers for the stand they have taken on the matter.
Kondowe said the teachers are merely demanding what it is due to them.
Picture caption: No classes! Some learners captured on their way back home