Frustrated teacher survives ‘suicide’ bid over salary delay

A primary school teacher in the lakeshore district of Nkhotakota has escaped an early grave by an inch after attempting suicide because of government’s delay in paying his dues.

Geoffrey Kanthumba – a teacher at Chingunda Primary School in the district – is currently battling for his life at Matiki Health Centre.

Nkhunga police publicist Sergeant Austin Kaunda said Kanthumba, 25, “took rat poison.”

The law enforcer said Kanthumba – who is a teacher under the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programme – could not take it any longer when he found out last Sunday that government had not yet deposited money it owes him for the past five months he has worked for it into his bank account.suicide-risk

“He got frustrated on his way from the bank and resorted to taking poison in order to end his life,” said Kaunda.

He added that they [police] are waiting for him to recover so that he can answer charges of attempted suicide.

“He will be expected to answer charges of attempted suicide which is contrary to Section 229 of the penal code,” he added.

Some of the teachers under the ODL programme in the district told Nyasa Times that the problem is synonymous to many others.

“It is a very unfortunate reality. We go for months without pay,” said one of the teachers who refused to be named.

Nyasa Times has established that the Ministry of Education is failing to properly handle its primary schools teachers in as far as payment of salaries is concerned.

Last July we carried a story that government was owing over K1.3 billion in arrears to primary school teachers it graduated in its various Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) last year under the Initial Primary School Teacher Education (IPTE) programme, a problem the Ministry of Education admitted and blamed it on logistical problems.

Primary school teachers are some of the lowest paid civil servants. They form a good part of the country’s Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU). The Malawi government often pays them late without satisfactory explanations.

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