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Learners march against teachers

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ANGER ON THE STREETS—Learners

Hundreds of learners took to the streets Tuesday, demonstrating against striking teachers across the country.

However, there is division among teachers in Lilongwe regarding the strike called by the Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) to force the government to pay them Covid allowances.

The strike follows the expiry of a seven-day notice given to the government following the decision by the Presidential down teachers’ proposal to convert money meant for personal protective equipment into cash. Taskforce on Covid to turn

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At Mchesi Primary School, only standard 8 learners were in class while those in other classes were sent back home.

According to one teacher we found at the school, they maintained the standard 8 learners because they will be sitting national examinations soon.

“Even though we want the government to give us risk allowances, we are also aware that standard 8 candidates will be sitting national examinations soon. So, we decided to keep the learners in school,” she said.

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However, there was no sign of any activity at Biwi Primary School in the same city.

Elsewhere in the city, notably at Chipasula Secondary School, it was business as usual as teachers attended to learners.

The school’s deputy head teacher Mathias Mitumba said they could not force teachers to join the strike.

“We know about the strike but we, as a school, are operating. Everyone reported for work today,” Mitumba said.

In Blantyre, learners’ demonstrations started at Catholic Institute (CI), with learners from other primary and secondary schools from the city joining the action.

The learners demonstrated on the Chikwawa M1 Road, branched off at Stella Maris Secondary School to Zingwangwa and then Kudya before going back to CI.

In some instances, they blocked roads with stones but there was a heavy presence of police to calm the situation.

The police handled the kids professionally, engaging them on routes and peacefully asking them to go home.

One of the learners said she was concerned with the strike as she already paid Malawi School Certificate of Education examination fees.

“They say when you educate a girl, you educate a nation. Here is a girl who is willing to go to school but teachers are on strike,” she said.

Some learners from Mzuzu City schools thronged the streets to remonstrate against teachers’ conduct.

They sang as they run towards Ministry of Education offices in Mzuzu. Some of these learners came from as far as St Augustine Primary School, six kilometres from the business centre.

Tum President Willie Malimba said the strike had resumed because the Presidential Taskforce on Covid had demonstrated that it did not have the welfare of teachers at heart by snubbing their call for allowances.

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