Malawi Police have fired tear gas at hundreds of learners from some public primary schools in Blantyre on Monday took to the streets, asking authorities to address their teachers’ grievances so that they can resume learning.
The learners blocked the M1 at near Mbayani market causing traffic jam along the road. Some even went further by pelting stones at road users, mostly vehicles.
They were expressing their anger of teachers’ strike which started last week.
Clad in various school uniforms, the learners from HHI, Blantyre Girls, Ndirande-Kachere, Nyambadwe and Namiwawa primary schools put business to a standstill as they chanted in unison: “Tikhonza bwanji! Sitikuphunzira!! [How are we going to pass examinations when we are not learning! ].
The learners, aged between eight and 14, sang songs demeaning the Democratic Progressive Party administration while demanding that they immediately go back to school where teachers had abandoned chalk unless government pays everyone their leave grants.
Police fired teargas at the learners, saying the protests were unlawful because no prior permission had been granted.
There were no reports of serious injuries.
Opposition members in Parliament (MPs) took government to task over the issue, saying delaying the process of payment will affect most learners, some of whom are set to write their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations starting this month end.
Making his comment on the proposed 2017/18 National Budget on Friday, MP for Dowa East Richard Chimwendo-Banda (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) asked government to explain what had been done to resolve the strike.
He described the situation as pathetic and cautioned government that it is sitting on a time bomb as people are tired with what is happening.