Parents have expressed concern over the continued disruption of learning in public schools, saying children are losing interest in school.
Malawi24 interviewed several parents on the sit-in that teachers have been conducting this week.
The sit-in by primary and secondary school teachers in public schools started on Monday. Teachers are demanding government to start giving them Covid-19 risk allowances. After government rejected the request, the Teachers Union of Malawi called off the strike on Thursday but the stay away continued in schools across the country on Friday.
This year alone, there have been no classes in public schools for six weeks.
One of the concerned parents Emily Chilinda from Karonga said little by little children are losing interest in school due to overstaying at home and she called for children’s rights organizations to come in.
She added that some older learners have ventured into different businesses and piece works.
“Where are the groups that fight for children’s rights? This is not fair. Learners are now reckless, uncontrollable, some have ventured in businesses of selling plastic bags and fish. Learners are dropping out of school, there is no Justice at all!
“I would like to urge the government to come out in the open and order these teachers to go back to work and resolve money issues later,” said Chilinda.
Edina Masamba from Chikwawa district said there is no way Government can pay teachers risk allowances.
“Why must the government pay the salaries of the teachers for the work they are not doing? It’s not fair. Teachers stayed five months last year without working and Government kept paying them and yet they can’t appreciate,” she said.
Peter Mambala from Lilongwe argued that Government has power to employ teachers who wish to work in any circumstances.
“When the Government sees that things are persisting as they are let it employ teachers who are idle to take over. There are graduates out there who are just idle in their homes government can take advantage of this to help especially to those learners who are in examination classes. I hear during Bakili Muluzi era Government could employ temporary teachers after teaching they could go to TTC like so. Why can’t Government do the same at mean time?” he queried.
He added that learners are voiceless and parents should defend them.
Earlier this week, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions supported the teachers calls for risk allowances saying they fighting for better and safer working environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected a larger amount of labour environment and its workers.
“Malawi Congress of Trade Unions appreciates the tremendous and enormous work teachers in Malawi are doing in shaping the future of this nation amidst precarious working conditions some of which include poor housing; poor working environment, some working under trees and very dilapidated infrastructure; low remuneration packages including inadequate promotion opportunities; and crowded classrooms with inadequate teaching and learning materials. Despite such hazardous conditions, teachers in Malawi continue to work tirelessly in ensuring that the Malawi child gets the necessary education,” the union said.