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Police teargas marching pupils

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Police in Blantyre Monday threw teargas canisters at primary school pupils who were protesting against their failure to learn as teachers went on a nationwide strike.

The pupils were from primary schools including Namalimwe, Matope, Makata and Kachere of Ndirande Township and some schools from Mbayani Township in Blantyre City.

The pupils stormed the streets in a bid to push government to address concerns of their teachers who demand arrears for their leave grants

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The learners wanted to camp at the District Education Manager in Blantyre to have their concerns heard.

However, the demonstrations turned violent as the learners started throwing stones at vehicles passing near Blantyre Girls Primary School.

About 10 police officers were deployed to the scene to disperse the pupils.

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The officers threw teargas canisters in a bid to disperse the learners.

Blantyre Police spokesperson, Elizabeth Divala, said police officers were deployed to the scene to stop the learners from the demonstrations.

“We dispersed the pupils on two reasons. One is the fact that they are children and they could not be permitted to hold demonstrations. The other thing is that the demonstrations were illegal because they did not take any permission,” she said.

However, when asked to clarify why the officers resorted to using tear-gas to quell the riots, Divala asked for more time.

“Let me consult on that one, because I was not there,” she simply said.

Teachers embarked on a nationwide strike on June 5 after it emerged that government had failed to give them leave grants for about two years.

There are about 63,000 primary school teachers who are yet to receive leave grants with the highest getting K33, 000.

Earlier, Ministry of Local Government said the leave grants would be paid together with June salaries. The ministry came into the picture because the money would go through local councils.

However, Teachers Union of Malawi President, Willie Malimba, argued that the decision by the ministry had overlooked irregularities that came with the process.

He feared that the irregularities would spill over to the next financial year.

Malimba suggested that the local councils should make a special arrangement to give out the money now.

He said the strike would not be called-off until every teacher gets their dues.

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