March 1, 2021

Government under pressure, given ultimatum to consider teachers Covid-19 risk allowances

Concerned Teachers of Malawi have threatened Government, through the Ministry of Education, that failure to address their concerns on the Covid-19 pandemic will have them down their tools.

As Malawi continues to register escalating figures, due to the havoc-wrecking Covid-19 second wave, teaching staff and students in schools have not been spared as more learners and teachers have tested positive to Covid-19.

According to a letter dated 16 January addressed to Ministry of Education , the concerned teachers have requested government to address their concerns amidst the Covid-19 pandemic adding that failure to address their concerns will see teachers down their tools.

In an interview with the Co-Chairperson for the Concerned Teachers, Steven Songoloti, said as citizens and at the same time teachers they know that Covid-19 cases and deaths of teachers and learners are rising rapidly due to the pandemic.

“We concerned Teachers wonder how we can mark learners’ assignments without transferring the virus from one infected exercise book to another even if the teacher uses sanitizers. We also wonder how we will manage during break times,” Songoloti explained.

Songoloti further said that due to very high numbers in class it is also difficult for the learners to observe social distance.

“We are giving government of Malawi five days ultimatum to address our concerns

, failure to comply with the concerned demands we will mobilize Teachers all over Malawi to put tools down, after the slated days given to them,” he said.

Among other concerns stated in the letter includes: providing risk allowance to all teachers like all other departments that are receiving risk allowance, to provide Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) to every member of staff in teaching service, To disinfect schools at least once a week, Recruitment of IPTE 13 and 14 as well as providing learners shelter or tents to schools in order to decongest the classes to at least 40.

Teachers Union Of Malawi(TUM) General Secretary, Charles Kumchenga, acknowledges to have come across the letter which was addressed to Government of Malawi but reserved to comment saying he should be given ample time to respond.

“ I must admit to have received a copy of the letter, but I cannot comment anything concerning that letter now, give me time I will respond later,” said Kumchenga.

Chikondano Mussa, Principal Secretary to The Ministry of Education Science and Technology, was unreachable for questioning despite several attempts to contact her to hear if the government is aware of the letter.

About 11 Districts have confirmed cases in teaching staff and students. Lilongwe Girls and Blantyre Secondary Schools are among the schools with confirmed cases.

As of 16 January, Malawi’s total confirmed cases was 11,785, new cases 562, active cases 5,283, 5,992 total recoveries according to confirmed info daily update.

By Esnath Kalawe

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