Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) and Ministry of Education have agreed to remove the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for teachers and instead pay them an allowance to end the sit-in that teachers have been staging for over two weeks.
The two parties signed the agreement yesterday following a meeting with the joint parliamentary committees on Education and Social and Community Affairs which sought to resolve the Covid-19 risk allowance impasse.
They signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the teachers to suspend the strike while government looks into the issue of allowances and that the money for allowances will come from the allocation that government made to procure PPE for the teachers.
Based on the MoU, signed by Ministry of Education Principal Secretary (Administration) Kiswel Dakamau and TUM president Willy Malimba, government will have to make a one-off payment covering three months from the day of the agreement.
During the meeting, Malimba said teachers are committed to ensuring that the learning process is not affected and he asked TUM members to resume work today.
He further asked government to fulfil its commitment, failing which the strike will resume.
Said Malimba: “We have only suspended the strike and not called it off. We hope our demands will be met, failing which we will resume the strike and the learners will be affected.”
Asked what difference it will make in getting the allowances instead of PPE, Malimba said teachers will buy the kind of PPE they want, adding that some of the materials that government was going to provide were not necessary.
On his part, Dakamau assured TUM of government’s commitment in promoting the welfare of teachers and ensuring learning is not disrupted again in the country.
Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs chairperson Savel Kafwafwa commended TUM and the ministry for reaching a compromise, adding teachers need to be fully protected .
Parliamentary Committee on Education chairperson Brainax Kaise said the agreement is for the betterment of the nation and not just the two institutions.
He said the Education Committee will be following up on the commitments made to ensure that the welfare of teachers is being looked into.
In her ministerial statement last month, Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said government would not provide teachers with a risk allowance as they were not rated as a Covid-19 high-risk group.