The Malawi government has turned down the demand by teachers for them to be provided with a risk allowance for teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government ordered that schools should reopen Monday, Feb. 22, after a five-week break, which was necessitated by the new COVID-19 upsurge earlier in the year.
But the Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) called on its members across the country to stage a sit-in to force the government to pay the teachers’ risk allowance and to also provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE).
The sit-in started Monday and pupils across the country were either sent back or left unattended to at their schools.
The Ministry of Education spokesperson, Chikondi Chimala, told local media Monday that the teachers’ demands had been referred to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for consideration.
But education minister, Agnes NyaLonje, on Wednesday told Parliament, which is currently in the Mid-Year Budget Review session, that the Task Force had turned the teachers’ demands down.
“Today, we received a communication from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the communication is that they do not think granting risk allowances to teachers at this time is appropriate,” explained the minister.
She added that the teachers will, however, be considered as a priority in the COVID-19 vaccine which the country will roll out in March targeting health workers first.
TUM leadership also met the country’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, on the matter and the Union has since suspended the strike, calling all teachers to return to work.
However, there is dissatisfaction among teachers across the country as they feel betrayed by their leadership which has called the sit-in off despite the government’s failure to honor their risk allowance demand.
Meanwhile, the Malawi government says it has disbursed funds to all schools across the country for the procurement of PPEs and, according to the Education Minister, over 3,200 additional teachers have been recruited to ease the teacher to pupil ratio. Enditem