Malawi teach­ers call off na­tion­wide strike

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

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

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