Malawi teachers boycott classes on first day

Frustrated with government’s empty promises, hundreds of teachers from Blantyre Rural primary schools on Monday and vowed never to resume teaching unless they are paid their salary and hardship allowances’ arrears.

Second term of school calendar opened on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 across the country and the development forced thousands of pupils to fail start learning.

Over 200 teachers in nine education zones of Blantyre rural boycotted classes because government has not been paying them their salaries and hardship allowances.

Teachers: Demand salary and hardship allowances before returning to class

‘Sit down’

Teachers from several primary schools confirmed to Nyasa Times that they have decided to go on a ‘sit down’ strike to press government to pay them their salary arrears and hard ship allowances which have taken several months.

The teachers who are striking are those who were employed last February under the Initial Primary School Teacher (IPT 3), according to one aggrieved teacher in Dziwe Education Zone.

“We have been cheated for long, we were told that we would get it before month-end of December up to no avail. This time we will not go back to class unless government pays us our arrears for both the salaries and hardship allowances,” said a lady teacher who claimed that she has not received her salary and the hardship allowance for the last four months.

Government introduced a K5000 hardship allowance for every rural teacher as an incentive for them not to shun rural areas due to harsh conditions they face like housing condition and walking long distances.

But the allowance has met a lot of challenges such as government having no funds to pay teachers and also entrusted people swindling the money.

According to the lady teacher, most teachers are owed between three and five months’ salary arrears.

She said the disappointed teachers were heading back to their homes to find other means of survival because they are tired of living miserable life.

According to reports, some teachers do not even have employment numbers since they were employed last year February.

The problem of hardship allowances has been a thorny issue since its introduction and teachers from almost every district in the country have at some point boycotted classes for not receiving it in time or not receiving it at all.

Late last year, a local radio reported that some two schools in Balaka district were boycotting classes after government failed to pay them their hardship allowances for 16 months.

In 2011, teachers asked the then Minister of Education Professor Peter Mutharika to step down from his position as he proved to be incompetent following the failure to pay them allowances.

He never resigned until his brother President Mutharika shifted him to the foreign affairs ministry and replaced him with George Chaponda.

Chaponda could not immedetietly comment.

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