Education experts in the country have challenged government to address public school teachers’ concerns before it compromises the country’s education system
This comes following a communique from Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) President advising public school teachers to resume stay away effective 6 April 2021 until government addresses their demands.
The communique stipulates that the resumption of the stay away follows expiry of 7 days ultimatum that TUM gave government to give the teachers money meant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In the statement, Malimba says government has proven that it does not put into consideration welfare of teachers and safety of students.
Reacting to the TUM’s press statement, one of the country’s education expert and policy analyst Dr. Steve Shara has expressed his concerns over government’s failure to address public school teachers grievances on Covid-19 risk allowance.
Shara said there is a need for people to understand that the teachers’ stay away is part struggles for better working conditions in schools and in the profession.
“Teachers’ welfare has always been neglected in this country. There are very few occasions when as a country we have taken teachers’ concerns seriously,” said Shara.
According to Shara, Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 needs to be aware of the wider implications of the situation.
“Teachers are observing what is going on , the plunder that is happening to funds meant for the fight against the pandemic. Some of the plunder is even being done in the name of teachers when in truth they have nothing to do with it. So the teachers’ anger is justified” He said.
In his words, Executive Director of Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Benidicto Kondowe said the government should have been proactive in responding to teachers grievances instead of waiting until the situation gets out of hand. Kondowe questions government’s reluctance at best and nonchalant at worst when it comes to engaging teachers on their grievances.
“It is curious that government can somehow manage to source out K20 million for it’s emergency cash transfer programme, which it plans to cushion targeted Malawians against the effects of covid-19 pandemic. Yet the same government is failing to provide teachers and schools with enough resources to offer them sufficient protection. I beg those in leadership positions to make decisions that they can stand by once they are out of those positions,” wondered Kondowe.
The country Director for Educans Limbani Nsapato added that the Ministry of Education should not use ostrich politics in the situation. He said as the ministry, it should address the teachers’ issues head on.
“The employer of teachers is Ministry of Education, and when the employees say there is a risk for which we are not compensated, employer should take responsibility and not push it to covid-19 taskforce. The Taskforce has no contractual obligation to address the push for allowances,” said Nsapato.
TUM suspended its stay away after an initial government that the former will give the latter money meant for PPEs as risk allowance, a development which is yet to be fulfilled.