Malawi’s public school teachers have commenced a sit-in strike as they demand better protective equipment and extra remuneration for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 deemed it safe for students to resume classes after a drop in the infection rate, after a five-week suspension caused by a surge in cases, the Voice of America reported.
The teachers who resumed on Monday have refused to teach classes until their demands for high-risk pay and better safety equipment are met.
Willy Malimba, the president of the Teachers Union of Malawi, told local media that equipment like face coverings, sanitisers, and soap are lacking in many schools.
“Of course, we saw some schools receiving soap from the government, but for sanitisers, not yet. So, looking at all these situations, we are saying, ‘No, the government is not ready to reopen schools,’” the union leader said.
The government said efforts had been made to ensure the resumption of educational activities in the country.
Agness Nyalonje, the education minister, said the government had allocated about $6 million to the schools reopening programme in a televised address last Wednesday.
Schools in Malawi were first closed in March 2020, ahead of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. In September, they reopened, only to be closed again in January 2021, as some teachers and students became infected.