By Sam Kalimira, Jameson Chauluka & Wezi Gausi:
Learners in public schools across the country failed to resume learning after a five-week break, as teachers boycotted classes Monday in protest against the government’s reluctance to give them Covid risk allowances.
However, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has expressed surprise with the action of the teachers
In a latest development, Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) and MoE officials met yesterday at a meeting attended by officials from the two sides. The MoE team— according to a communique which MoE Principal Secretary [Administration] Kiswell Dakamau and Tum President Willie Malimba signed at the end of the meeting— was led by Dakamau himself, who was accompanied by all directors in the ministry. Officials from ministries of Labour as well as Local Government also availed themselves of the meeting.
Tum, on the other hand, was represented by Malimba.
As the meeting was taking place, however, teachers did not report for duties while learners were sent back home.
The Daily Times reporters in the country’s three administrative regions found learners either chit-chatting or going back home. They told us that their teachers had told them to go back home.
In Mzuzu City, learners at Katoto Primary School went to school as early as 6:30 am, only for teachers to send them back home.
At Kawuwa and CCAP primary schools, learners said they had been told to go back home because their teachers were afraid of coronavirus.
One of the concerned parents, Undercret Banda, said the government should find a solution to the problem.
It was a similar case in the capital Lilongwe, where learners were left frustrated after being told that there would be no learning or teaching business on the day.
No wonder, there was no learner found on campus when we visited Mchesi Primary School, a situation that replayed itself at Biwi Primary School and Chipasula Secondary School.
In Blantyre, teachers at Chichiri, Limbe and Kanjedza primary schools led the way in striking.
This was also the case in Zomba City, where learners at Mponda and Bwaila primary schools as well as those at Zomba Urban Secondary School were either playing around the school premises or not present at all.
In Dowa District, some learners had enough of the striking teachers’ action and decided that enough was enough. As such, learners at Mponela 1 and 2 primary schools exercised their constitutional right to hold peaceful demonstrations by staging protests aimed at forcing the government and teachers to a roundtable.
President Lazarus Chakwera ordered that schools reopen Monday after a Covid-induced five-week break.
On Sunday, Malimba had vowed that the teachers would not go back to work until the government compensated them for braving Covid.
“We will call the strike off once the government brings something tangible to the table,” Malimba told The Daily Times.— Additional reporting by Jarson Malowa and Henderson Msusa