Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has warned government that it will not sit down and watch if arrears that are owed to teachers nationwide are not paid in full by end of this month.
Since last year, TUM has been contending with government on K1.7 billion arrears owed to teachers who were missed on payroll, accrued through promotion and new recruits in both primary and secondary schools.
But Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Justin Saidi says government will only pay the arrears—accumulated since 2009—only after all due processes by the National Audit Office (NAO) are finalised.
TUM secretary general Charles Kumchenga in an interview yesterday urged government to settle the arrears, saying they are long overdue.
He said: “We have already communicated to our parent ministry that we will not accept any excuses this time around. What we are looking for is that all eligible teachers should get their dues.
“The problem is that after government had cleared half of the money owed to teachers last year, the figure is rising again due to the new recruits and those that are missed from the payroll. If it is a question of records not being updated, it is not the teachers’ fault. If they do not comply, they should know it is the learners who will suffer.”
Kumchenga further blamed Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development which now recruits teachers in districts for not helping with the cause of the suffering teachers.
Government in the 2018/19 fiscal year allocated resources for the recruitment of 10 000 primary and 500 secondary school teachers who had graduated between 2015 and 2017.
Responding to TUM, Saidi said NAO was handling the matter and payments will be finalised soon.
“They are a busy office and we hope they will finalise the process soon. After that they will certify that Treasury should make the payments. But it is not like there is no money. We are just waiting for all due processes to be undertaken,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said government was taking teachers for granted.
Thrice last year TUM threatened nationwide strikes before government started paying the teachers’ arrears.
In October 2018, over 100 teachers from Blantyre Urban were omitted from the payroll and TUM says these are part of the teachers that are lined up to receive their money.
Apart from the salary arrears TUM also claims that government owes some teachers money in leave grants.
In May 2018, The Nation reported that the country’s education sector was getting allocations for the national budget below the international benchmark of 15 percent of the total public expenditure as spelt out in the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).