Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) says teachers in public schools will resume their strike following the expiry of the seven-day notice they gave government to pay them cash equivalent of their personal protective equipment (PPE).
In an interview Thursday, TUM president Willie Malimba said the Ministry of Education has not responded to their concerns; hence, the strike.
He said the union will provide further details in a press statement on Monday.
Said Malimba: “In our letter, we indicated clearly the action we will take if government fails to address our grievances. TUM and government have not met or communicated on the matter since.
“So, on Monday we will communicate to teachers on the way forward.”
In a statement issued last Wednesday, addressed to principal secretaries for ministries of Education and Local Government, Malimba indicated that teachers will resume their strike following government’s failure to provide them with allowances for PPE as agreed earlier last month.
He indicated that the Parliamentary Committee on Education chairperson Brainax Kaise communicated to the union that the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 rejected the proposal to have teachers provided with cash equivalent to PPE for three months.
But reacting to the prolonged impasse between TUM and Ministry of Education, Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe observed that government will be seen as violating children’s right to education because it has a constitutional duty to promote, protect and fulfil the right to education.
He observed that both teachers and learners have already lost time from the first and second waves of Covid-19, meaning that learners will not be imparted with the requisite skills and competences expected for a given academic year.
Said Kondowe: “This strike will be a serious concern considering that our curriculum is overloaded.
He further observed that teachers’ strike will also have a negative impact on the country’s economy as government will be paying them when they are not providing any service.
When contacted, Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala declined to comment on the matter.
Last year, during the first wave of Covid-19, schools were closed in March for five months following a government order to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Early this year, schools were also closed for five weeks following the second wave of the pandemic.
When government announced the re-opening of schools in February, learners in public schools were further affected by the teachers’ strike, which went on for two weeks as TUM demanded a Covid-19 risk allowance.
On March 8, a parliamentary Joint Committee of Education and Social and Community Affairs engaged TUM and the Ministry of Education to resolve the impasse.