Teachers Strike in Malawi

An empty classroom is seen at a school in Norton, 55 kms west of Harare, on January 28, 2009. Schools opened on January 27 with children having no lessons as the teachers demanded thier salaries in foreign currency. Getting the school year off the ground in Zimbabwe has been a rocky affair, as teachers launched straight into a strike over their salaries, some of which are now worth a mere three US dollars a month due to galloping inflation. AFP PHOTO / Desmond Kwande (Photo by DESMOND KWANDE / AFP)

The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Monday began an indefinite strike action that coincided with school resumption and the new academic year.

The teachers, who are demanding an increase in wages as well as COVID-19 risk allowance, on Monday boycotted classrooms saying they feel unsafe in school environments.

TUM is also demanding that teachers be given personal protective equipment (PPE), training on how to deal with Covid-19 cases within their schools and a plan for social distancing in classrooms.

President Lazarus Chakwera ordered schools to be closed five weeks ago following a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

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Schools were to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of cases of coronavirus.

Local media is reporting that most students returned home after reporting to school in the morning.

In the town of Mponela, 65km north of the Capital, Lilongwe, learners closed roads with huge stones and tree branches to express solidarity with their teachers.

Police have since dispersed the protest.

Ministry of education spokesman, Chikondi Chimala, said the government was holding meetings with teachers’ representatives to resolve the issue.

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