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Teachers Union of Malawi undecided on schools reopening

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Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) is undecided on whether teachers would report for classes or not come September 7 as the government announced, saying they will wait for an outcome of discussions surrounding their risk allowances plea.

At least K2.1 billion has been transferred to school zone accounts from Covid-19 Global Partnership for Education Funds to enhance precautionary measures on the global pandemic, however there is no slot for teachers’ risk allowances.

At a press briefing in Lilongwe, Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa said the matter is still under discussion as it does not solely fall under the Ministry of Education.

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“The nation will be notified on progress of the issue as soon as the discussions are concluded,” she said.

In an interview Sunday, Tum Secretary General, Charles Kumchenga, said the union has already requested the ministry for an engagement this week before the schools re-open and they are expecting feedback today.

“Our stand is that we should first finalise our discussion on the risk allowances issue before the schools reopen. So, let us just wait by the end of this week to see what these discussions will bear. We cannot say we will go in class or not. These discussions will determine whether we have to go back to school or not,” he said.

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Kumchenga said it is disheartening that the ministry organised a presser in Lilongwe, where they also supposed to be party, to respond to some of the sticky issues that were raised during the event.

“Government cannot make a decision on its own on such issues as risk allowances. It must engage us. Issues such as the assessment on whether schools have the capacity or not should have been the first thing to do not the announcement,” he said.

The K2.1 billion allocation from the Global Partnership for Education Fund will be used for trainings, mask making, printing and distribution of guidelines, purchase of buckets and soap; and procurement of radios for vulnerable children and suggestion boxes.

There has been a heated debate on whether the teachers should be given the risk allowances.

The ministry has adopted a phased approach for the re-opening of schools, priotising with examination classes. Phase one will see standard 8 and Form 4 students returning to school after a five months break.

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