Teachers in public secondary schools in Malawi have finally launched their own union to advance their interests effectively renouncing their membership from from their long-time mother body, the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM).
Christened Secondary School Teachers Union (SESTU), the union envisages to work with education stakeholders in creating conducive working and learning environment to promote and maintain high quality education standards.
SESTU interim president Pilirani Kapolo justified the establishment of a separate union targeting secondary school teachers in public schools, saying apart from being their constitutional right to form or join a trade union of their choice, they felt TUM was becoming overstretched to fully represent teachers’ needs as the number of teachers in public schools kept increasing.
“Experience has shown that TUM acts swiftly on issues related to teachers from public primary schools than issues related to teachers from public secondary schools. This leaves secondary school teacher with inadequate representation. Issues related to primary schools are handled by the Directorate of Basic Education in the Ministry of Education. On the other hand, issues for secondary schools are handled by the Directorate of Secondary Education,” said Kapolo.
He said currently Education Division Managers (EDMs) are the ones who manage secondary school teachers while District Education Managers (DEMs) are handling primary school teachers.
Kapolo further stated that the creation of the new union has been necessitated by increasing unprofessional conduct of secondary school teachers, which affects delivery of quality secondary education.
“SESTU would be there to compliment government efforts on the same. We want to promote inclusive education in secondary in sub-sector with motivated special need teachers,” he emphasized.
SESTU interim General Secretary (GS) Druwen Frank Moyo said their union is now the legal mouthpiece for secondary school teachers in public schools in Malawi.
Moyo brushed away speculations that the Tonse Alliance government has facilitated the formation of the union to destabilize TUM, which has recently given the government headache over risk allowances.
Meanwhile, TUM has announced that it will be mobilizing the teachers to go on strike again, accusing the government of not living up to its word on risk allowances.