Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has called off a nationwide teachers’ strike that threatened to crumble the country’s public education system after schools opened on September 5 for the new academic year.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, TUM secretary general Dennis Kalekeni said they have decided to suspend the sit-in because government has provided enforceable commitments.
He said: “Government has shown commitment to address our grievances and it is only fair that we suspend the strike. This means that the Wednesday [yesterday] strike is no longer valid and we have called on teachers to resume their normal duties.”
Through Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani, government has written the Principal Secretary for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) giving an assurance of approval to pay salary arrears and salary reimbursement to the tune of K102 796 680.
“I hereby write to convey the approval for your request and the salary reimbursement will be broken down into K81 890 343 and K20 906 337 respectively. Please ensure that the officers on payroll are paid through the GP5A Form for the month of September,” reads in part of the communication from Treasury signed by Mangani.
Treasury has also written MoEST approving to pay leave grants to secondary school teachers for the 2015/16 financial year.
“With such kind of commitment from government we had no choice but to call off the strike. But we are warning government that if they don’t meet the deadlines then we will go full throttle with the strike and there will be no holding back. We have been patient enough and it is time government stopped dilly-dallying,” said Kalekeni.
TUM planned a strike which was first called off last week before it issued an ultimatum that expired yesterday.
The teachers’ grievances included K1.4 billion for supervision and invigilation of Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations, K246 million for teachers who were promoted and K103 million for retired and deceased teachers.
TUM had 24 grievances against MoEST which were last week trimmed to five.
On outstanding MSCE management arrears, Kalekeni and Treasury last evening said Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) was provided with the funds for the activity.
But Maneb spokesperson Simeon Maganga said the examinations body would comment at an appropriate time.