By Chisomo Phiri

One of the country’s Educationist and policy analyst, Dr. Steve Shara has stressed his concerns over government’s failure to provide covid-19 risk allowance to teachers which has led the teachers to resume sit-in on Tuesday until their grievances are heard by the government.

Shara said there is a need for people to understand that teachers’ strike is part of teachers’ struggles for better working conditions in  schools and in their 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, It is obvious that the strike  delayed the re-opening of public schools, and thereby contributes to the worsening of quality education.

The government, in particular the covid-19 presidential task force  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 teachers anger is justified” He said.

In his comment on Shara’s argument, the Executive Director of Civil Society Education Coalition(  CSEC) who is also education activist, Mr. Benedicto Kondowe said government should have been proactive in responding to teachers grievances instead of waiting until the situation is out of control.

He said it calls into question why the government is so reluctant 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” Said Kondowe.

The country Director for Education, Dr. Limbani Nsapato added that the Ministry of Education ( MoE) should not use  ostrich politics in the situation.  He said as the ministry, it should address the  teachers issues a head on.

” The employer of teachers is MoE and when the employees say there is a risk for which we are not compensated, employer should take responsibility and not push it to covi taskforce. The Taskforce has no contractual obligation to address the push for allowances” Said Nsapato.

The government in conjunction with the Ministry of Education ( MoE) made an agreement with the Teachers Union of Malawi ( TUM) to use money allocated for buying Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE) for teachers in schools as the risk allowance in response to their demand. Still now , the government hasn’t deposited the agreed amount into the teachers’ accounts hence forcing the to to resume the strike by Tuesday.

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