Private school teachers in the Northern Region have complained that despite pension being mandatory as inscribed in the country’s labour laws, some private school owners do not prioritise pension schemes on teachers’ welfare.
The teachers have said many teachers who retire after working for private schools languish in poverty as school owners do not put them on pension schemes.
The teachers, who met the leadership of Private Schools Teachers Union in Mzuzu, said they cannot confront their bosses over the matter for fear of reprisals such as dismissals.
One of the teachers from Nkhata Bay, Chimwemwe Nkhata, said some teachers move from one school to another because they do not feel comfortable working in schools where there is no pension scheme.
“Many teachers do not know that it is mandatory that every employer is supposed to ensure that its employees are on pension scheme. This makes some teachers to move from one school to another; a development which further does not give them a chance to be on a pension scheme. But, what I know is that a teacher also gets tired. They retire and it is only the pensions which can offer them a means of survival at home,” Nkhata said.
Independent Schools Association of Malawi President, Joseph Patel, said private school owners are aware of the pension scheme but said some schools’ directors fail to comply because they are no longer doing business to meet the requirements.
“We follow the government policy and a pension scheme is a must at private schools. However, due to economic crisis many schools are not making money because they have few students. Some schools also hire teachers on temporally basis and that is the reasons they are not on pension,” Patel said.
But Private Schools Teachers Union General Secretary, Falison Lemani, said private school owners violate Pension Act of 2013, which is mandatory.
However, Lemani said his union, which has a membership of 4,183, will work hard to ensure teachers’ rights are not violated.
“If we can speak with one voice, we will be strong and few teachers would be left behind on pension schemes. We will talk to school owner to ensure they start respecting the laws because once they continue breaking it, they are committing a crime,” Lemani said.
According to the union, the country has over 20,000 teachers in private schools.