By Synd Kalimbuka
Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) says it wants government to employ teachers under Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 13, as schools are set to reopen next month.
Government and the Union are negotiating on what measures and conditions to consider as preventive measures against Covid-19 in schools are under way.
TUM President Charles Kumchenga said the position of the Union is not only on risk allowances but on several factors including employment of teachers under Initial Primary Teacher Education (IPTE) 13, deployment of assistant teachers and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
Kumchenga said: “The Union has proposed that government should employ all teachers under IPTE 13 programme which finished their training some years ago to reduce teacher pupil ratio in primary schools.”
He added that they have also asked government to deploy assistant teachers to be supporting teachers during lessons.
He further said that the Union wants double shifting to be encouraged to reduce number of learners per class saying that this will be accompanied by monetary connotations.
According to Kumchenga, the current primary school teacher pupil ratio is at 1:200.
Kumchenga also emphasized on the measures to protect both learners and teachers during school hours through provision of enough protective equipment such as hand sanitisers, soap, face masks and water in all schools.
“We prioritize lives of learners and teachers during this time hence demanding for enough resources,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, social commentator Emily Mkamanga disagreed with TUM on risk allowance and deployment of assistant teachers saying she doesn’t see any connection.
Mkamanga said the teachers’ issue is different from that of health workers who handle patients.
She, however, concurred with TUM on the proposal to recruit all IPTE 13 teachers as one way of addressing teacher pupil ratio challenge in the country.
Government announced that schools will reopen on in September 7. The schools were closed in March this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.