The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) says it wants the issue of personal protective equipment (PPEs) inadequacy in some public schools addressed.
TUM secretary general Charles Kumchenga said on Wednesday that they have met Ministry of Local Government Principal Secretary Charles Kalemba to push for the PPEs which councils are supposed to distribute to public schools, following the opening of third term.
He said when they earlier engaged Ministry of Education officials, they were told that councils were given K100 million each for Covid-19 response.
Said Kumchenga: “So, the agreement [during the meeting] was that councils should release those funds because we don’t want a situation whereby the money is released when so many teachers and learners have been affected by Covid-19.”
He said the meeting also agreed that headteachers can use funds for school improvement plans to avoid having shortage of PPEs.
Kumchenga said that if there will be lack of PPEs in schools, it will be the issue of failure of councils and headteachers.
While efforts to talk to Kalemba proved futile, Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala on Tuesday also said money for PPEs were sent to councils.
He said: “Money for the PPE was sent to the councils through the National Local Government Finance Committee [NLGFC] so TUM must ask the councils if there are no PPE in schools.”
In the previous term, TUM said there was lack of PPE in some public schools amid increasing Covid-19 cases that affected both teachers and learners.
TUM, therefore, engaged the Malawi Congress of Trade Union to resuscitate the Covid-19 risk allowance talks with the Ministry of Labour to reconsider its position that teachers are not in the high risk category.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, education policy expert Dr Steve Sharra said it is important for every teacher in the country to be provided with everything they need to keep themselves and their students safe from Covid-19.
He said teaching and learning can only happen in a conducive atmosphere, stressing that without such, there are disastrous consequences.
“Without that, the consequences are seen in national examination results and even in the economy and society and the implications are long lasting,” said Sharra.
Since last year, TUM has been demanding the risk allowances and engaging in strikes but nothing fruitful has come out.
This was before TUM and government signed a consent order on April 12 this year for teachers to resume work and have a court process government initiated court process postponed pending negotiations.