1st March school resumption uncertain as more divisions engulf TUM

Chances of classes resuming on Monday hang by a thread as there are more division within the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM). TUM President Wellie Malimba has asked all teachers not to return to work on Monday 1st March until government bows down to their requests. Malimba’s sentiments come barely 3 days after the Union’s Vice President Rehema Haridi called off the stay away citing government’s commitment to address the teachers’ concerns. The teachers have been on stay away since 22nd February demanding risk allowances from government in the wake of Covid-19. But Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje addressing 1 Assembly on 24th February said Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 does not see it appropriate at the moment to give the teachers risk allowance as per their demands. But according to Malimba, TUM’s Constitution gives power to President and General Secretary only to speak on behalf of the Union. The TUM President has meanwhile blamed government for what he described as using intimidation and threats to force the teachers to return to work before their grievances are addressed. The development comes against a background that government through the Ministry of Education in a statement released on Sunday has asked all teachers in pubic institutions to resume work on 1st March 2021. Through the statement, Kiswell Dakamau Principal secretary in the Ministry of Education says the ministry resolved all TUM’s concerns following discussions that the two parties were engaged in. “The Ministry of Education wishes to inform the general public and all Teachers that in the just ended week, the Ministry and Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) held discussions to resolve concerns raised by TUM. The said meeting amicably resolved all issues raised by TUM that fall under the remit of the Ministry of Education. “The issue of Teachers’ risk allowances was referred to and addressed by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19. The outcome of these two meetings was immediately communicated to all Teachers and the public,” reads part of the statement. The teachers started demanding risk allowances as schools reopened on 22nd February after a 5 weeks recess due to Covid-19, but students in public schools are yet to start their lessons.