The nationwide teachers sit-in yesterday entered its second day as teachers continued to press government to pay those whose names were skipped on the December 2019 payroll for allegedly failing to submit their national identity cards.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary (PS) Justin Saidi, in an interview on Monday, said the teachers would start receiving their salaries from yesterday.
However, as of yesterday, Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) secretary general Charles Kumchenga said none of their members had started receiving their salaries.
The teachers are among thousands of other civil servants whose names also missed out on the payroll.
A spot check by The Nation showed that pupils were not learning in some schools while others joined in the peaceful protests as teachers went to district education and district commissioners (DC) offices.
When The Nation arrived at Blantyre DC’s offices, they were more teachers as compared to Monday when the strike started, a development which was attributed to rains in the morning.
One of the teachers leading the protests, Diana Chikumba, who is also TUM’s governor for South West Education Division, said they would not return to work until their colleagues are paid.
Spot checks in various schools in Nkhotakota showed that classes were indefinitely suspended.
TUM district chairperson Latibu Chungu said: “Our records show that about 50 teachers were skipped despite submitting their national identity cards. Is it wrong to ask what is due to you?”
However, some striking teachers in the district have seized the opportunity to offer part time lessons to Standard 8 learners whom they were charging K500 per head.
Yesterday afternoon, pupils at Maungu Primary School were found taking make-up lessons.
In Mzuzu, learners from various primary schools also joined their teachers in marching to the district education offices despite rains in the morning.
The teachers carried placards that expressed their frustrations while they sang different songs on their way.
In Dowa, learners from various schools also joined their teachers in the protests as they made their way to the DC’s offices.
It was the same in Balaka District where teachers on Monday did not join in the strike.
Balaka DC Emmanuel Bambe, however commended the striking teachers for demonstrating peacefully. But, he expressed worry that, learners in some schools are in the forefront of the protests.
Said Bambe: “I share your pain, but let me assure you that all will be fine at the soonest time possible. Accept that every transition has negative effects, but as the overall controller of the council, let me assure you that things will be normalised soon.”
In a separate interview, a teacher at Mayera Primary School in Chileka, said they were hopeful that they would get their salaries by yesterday as indicated by the ministry.
She said: “This is a sad development for us because we were expecting to receive our salaries today but it seems we will have to wait longer.”
The situation was also the same in some schools in Mangochi, Mulanje, Chiradzulu and Thyolo where learners from various schools joined their striking teachers.
While Saidi’s number could not be reached on numerous attempts, Kumchenga, said they would likely be taking a step further to camp at Capital Hill if their grievances are not resolved.
He said: “We are proceeding as planned and nothing will convince us to step back from our actions until government pays the salaries to the affected teachers.”
The teachers are alleged to have been missed out on the payroll in December for failing to provide details of their national identification (ID) cards.
Since Monday, the teachers have been holding sit-ins at their respective DCs offices as well as presenting petitions to district education offices.
Additional reporting by Malawi News Agency (Mana) reporters