TUM splits further as secondary school teachers form own union

It seems the centre cannot hold for Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM)—supposed to be a mother grouping for teachers in the country—following its slow but steady crumbling following the formation of a new union for secondary school teachers.

TUM, since its establishment in 1995, has been dealing with teachers in primary, secondary and tutors in the country’s Teachers Training Colleges (TTCs).

Civil Society Education Coalition, Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe making his contribution-Photo Arkangel Tembo, Mana

Among others, the Union—which deducts K500 from almost every teacher on government payroll—is supposed to handle members’ grievances, present them to relevant authorities for solutions.

With a membership of 76 000, TUM is said to collect about over K38 million a month which translates to over K456 million a year.

However, over the years Nyasa Times has learnt that most teachers have been disgruntled with their Union’s operations with many arguing that it has failed “to project one voice.”

Recently, the Union had a breakaway group of teachers who said they would return to class opposing their President Willie Malimba’s insistence that they keep on with the strike over Covid-19 risk allowances.

Druwen Moyo, chairperson of the newly formed Secondary School Teachers Union (SSTU), said that the creation of the new union was because they “are convinced” that TUM is not adequately taking care of them.

Moyo, among others, alleged that TUM was mostly concerned with the welfare on primary school teachers who comprise a greater percentage of the membership.

“We feel that with SSTU we will be able to handle our issues more impeccably. The thing is over the years, the voice of teachers at secondary school level has not been sufficiently heard at TUM,” said Moyo.

According to him, SSTU will use the already existent structures in the secondary school education system to grow itself.

“We will have a representative of the Union at every secondary school. And since we have clusters in districts we will also have cluster representatives and then district representatives across the country. After we make these establishments we will then be planning to organise a national conference to plan our future,” he said.

But education expert, Benedicto Kondowe of Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec), said much as it was their right to form the union it was worrisome because teachers would then not be able to speak with one voice.

Kondowe said with the development it was likely that tutors in teacher training colleges (TTCs) were going to follow suit.

“The continued disintegration of TUM is not healthy for teachers in the country at all,” said Kondowe.

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