Quasi-religious group Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has asked teachers to return to school for classes as discussions on whether they should be given risk allowances progress.
Pac Publicity Secretary Reverend Gilford Matonga Wednesday said the teachers should consider the fact that learners, some of whom are their children, have been out of school for over five weeks now.
Matonga reasoned that it would be difficult to regain what they have lost through the time they have been idle.
“We are of the view that they could go back and teach while they are negotiating with the government. There is always a middle way of resolving matters. Maybe the demands that are being made by the teachers are too much; they can find out a way of reducing some of the things they are requesting the government to do.
“On the other side, it is also true that the government may not have the resources the teachers are looking for. In this instance, we are looking at a very huge amount of money that must be spent on them. We are considering the fact that, during this season, the government is not getting a lot of resources. Malawians are also looking at other essential services that must still be provided regardless of the Covid pandemic. So, all those that are demanding that the government do something must ensure that the demands are reasonable. All these issues can be discussed while all teachers are going to school,” he said.
Matonga said if the two sides were of the view that Pac should mediate in talks, the quasi-religious grouping was ready to do so.
“If the government feels that we could participate and, indeed, if the teachers feel we are a better organisation to bring them together, then we could probably do that. But ours is an appeal. We realise that people can go on strike in order to bring the employer to a place where demands can be met or something like that,” he said.
Government spokesperson Gospel Kazako said they were looking at finding long-term solutions to challenges teachers face because Covid would soon be a thing of the past.
“We are hoping that the best will come out of the meetings. The teachers are asking for risk allowances. We understand them and appreciate their position. As government, what we are saying is that we would want to reconstruct the life of a teacher. For a long time, the teacher has been oppressed. So, what we want to do now is to deal with this issue once and for all. We are looking at issues to do with decent salaries which teachers have been complaining about for a long time. We are also looking at matters to do with promotions, upgrading of teachers, livelihood generally and housing, among other things,” he said.