Malawi teachers call off nationwide strike
BLANTYRE — Teachers in Malawi have called off their nationwide strike which resulted in the closure of the country’s public education system.
Teachers Union of Malawi secretary general Dennis Kalekeni told News24 that they have suspended the strike because authorities have offered them a concrete promise on their demands.
“Government has made what looks like a concrete promise. We believe our grievances will be addressed and hence it is important to call of the strike. Due to government’s pledge, we have decided to go back to class,” he said.
According to Kalekeni, government through the Treasury Secretary Ronald Mangani, has approved the initial payment of salary arrears and reimbursement pegged at $143 000.
He, however, warned that if government has simply fooled them with an empty promise, they will stage another nationwide strike sooner than later.
“If government’s promise is a trick, they will regret because we will go on another strike sooner than later,” he said.
Government owes teachers over $1.9 million which are fees for supervision and invigilation of school examinations.
Some of the arrears are for salary adjustments for teachers who were promoted to new grades and pension packages for retired and deceased teachers.
While the teachers strike started on Monday this week, pupils in some parts of the southern African nation joined them through street protests. “We joined the teachers strike because the government has been oppressing them for a long time. As pupils we are on the receiving end of the challenges that teachers face,” said one pupil in Blantyre.
She said since teachers who are de-motivated cannot teach well, they found it necessary to pressure the government to meet the demands of their teachers.
Primary schools are the largest segment of the education sector in Malawi, boasting of about six million learners taught by about 80 000 teachers.
Primary school education in Malawi is made up of eight years (referred to as Standard 1 to 8.), while secondary schools offer four years of learning.
Since 1994, Malawi has been providing free to all the pupils in the public schools, which are under-resourced, under-staffed, and under-funded. — AFP