Observers are tipping the authorities to improve working conditions for teachers if the bad blood between the government and teachers is to end.
The remarks come as classes were set to resume in public schools today following suspension of a prolonged teachers’ strike.
Yesterday, the two sides signed a consent order requiring the educators to resume work while giving room to negotiations over their Covid-19 risk allowance grievances.
Representatives of the government and the Teachers Union of Malawi – TUM have also resolved to suspend the interparte case concerning the former’s notice of injunction against the strike at the Industrial Court.
“Indeed the matter has been postponed, what we are asking now is for the teachers is to resume classes. But this one is just a suspension waiting for the negotiations to come to an end,” said Willie Malimba is TUM’s President.
Malimba has also expressed optimism that the negotiations will see the two side reaching a common ground.
And lawyer for the teachers, Madalitso Kausi, stated that court processes on the injunction would have resulted in loss of time, which could have otherwise be used for dialogue to resolve the matter.
“We saw it fit that we should not begin to fight issues of legality or illegality of the injunction now, so we should postpone this matter to allow negotiations,” Kausi said.
“So we agree that the respondents (the teachers) should resume work, negotiations should continue and this matter be postponed,” Kausi added.
Reacting to the development, Institute for Policy Interaction – IPI Executive Director, Rafiq Hajat contends that conversations on the issue should also focus on holistic improvement of education standards in the country.
“The teachers have been sacrificing a lot to teach our children, and they have suffered, their conditions of service are appalling and this has really brought to light the situation,” said Hajat.
Also weighing in his views is Blantyre-based social commentator, Sheriff Kaisi who feels the calling off of the strike is the way to go as it gives hope to students, especially those in expecting to seat for examinations.
He was however quick to mention that positive performance of the students will however depend on how motivated the teachers will be.
“If there is a sour relationship between the government and the teachers who are the employees, we shouldn’t expect anything good that can come out of that,” Kaisi stressed.
As of today, classes had not fully resumed as other teachers have not yet started teaching while others were in class delivering lessons.