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Government snubs teachers

ALL-INCLUSIVE MEETING—Government, teachers and joint Parliamentary Committee representatives

The government has rejected a proposal by the Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) to give them the monetary value of personal protective equipment (PPE) for working during the Covid pandemic.

A letter, which Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Education Brainex Kaise has signed and addressed to Tum President Willy Malimba, indicates that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid has advised that it cannot support the proposal.

“The taskforce wishes to advise that it cannot support the resolutions. In this regard, I have the honour to inform you that the Presidential Taskforce on Covid has not approved that teachers be provided with the PPE in Cash Costed Package as a Once-Off Payment to cover three months as quoted above,” the letter reads.

The resolution was arrived at as a solution to end the impasse between the government and Tum over Covid risk allowances.

Last month, teachers in public schools were on a two-week strike to force the government to give them Covid allowances.

However, parliamentary committees mediated between the government and Tum leaders.

Reacting to the latest development, Tum has given the government one week to return to its commitment.

It warns that, if the government sticks to its guns, the teachers may down tools again.

“We wish to warn the government that once the stay away resumes, it shall only be called off after all the public primary and secondary school teachers plus TTC lecturers have been provided with the appropriate PPE in the Cash-Costed Package as a once-off payment covering three months.

“You will recall that the resolution was mutually agreed between Tum, on one hand, and Ministry of Education on other hand during a meeting which was held on 8th March 2021 at Parliament Building that teachers should be provided with a cash equivalent to the PPE that the government intended to procure for them. Government committed to do the calculations [and] advise Tum on the actual figure within one week after the said meeting” reads a statement from Tum.

Meanwhile, learning has been suspended at Chiusi Primary School in Mangochi District after one of the teachers tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.

Chiusi Head teacher Isah Saidi said learners have not been attending classes since Monday as the school was waiting for authorities to conduct mass testing on both learners and teachers.

“One of us was found with Covid at the weekend, hence she wrote to inform us that she is isolating. Because of that, teachers have not been willing to continue teaching for fear of spreading or contracting the virus from learners who are in classes that were being taught by the affected teacher,” he said.

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