Malawi: PSEUM emerges from Covid-19 Threat stronger
The Private School Education Union of Malawi (PSEUM) in collaboration with Larärförbundet and Education International Africa Region (EIRAF) held an Annual review and planning meeting on 2nd to 4th December 2020. The meeting aimed at reviewing the progress made by PSEUM in strengthening and growing their union. The meeting was attended by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PSEUM which assembled at Crowne Lodge in Lilongwe, Malawi. Eva Elmstedt Frisk of Larärförbundet and Richard Etonu of EIRAF participated via zoom.
During the meeting, the PSEUM highlighted some of the challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the PSEUM members did not also receive their salaries because the schools were closed, and the private schools depend only on school fees to pay salaries. Some employees of private schools lost their jobs because the schools operated in rented premises and the school owners could not pay the rent without school fees and had to close business altogether. Several PSEUM members got involved in alternative ways of survival and have since abandoned teaching.
PSEUM, due to these challenges, sought the intervention of the newly elected Head of State. During the meeting, he granted on 10th August, the union presented His Excellency the President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera two options: (a) for teachers of private schools to be included on the government payroll or (b) for the schools to be reopened.
The President on weighing the two options and noting that the difficult process of including private school teachers on the payroll, opted for the reopening of schools. On the basis of this meeting, all schools in Malawi reopened in September 2020. This event, according to PSEUM President, Joyce Mbeba, has proved that employers and organized employees in Malawi private schools need each other and are now working together closely.
“We have our members and others in private schools back on the job and the school proprietors have their schools running but more importantly even government schools are also in operation because of this effort”, She concluded.