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Pupils in Malawi capital protest following teachers’ strike

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of primary school pupils took to the streets of the Malawi capital Lilongwe Wednesday following the on-going teachers’ nationwide industrial action over salary arrears and allowances.

The teachers’ nationwide sit-in commenced on Monday after the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) and Malawi government failed to touch base on the teachers’ concerns.

Since Monday, the teachers are reporting for duties in their respective schools but they are just sitting, playing various games among themselves until knocking-off time.

The teachers are demanding salary arrears for over 6 months, allowances for invigilating the 2016 Malawi School Certificate of Education Exams, and promotion.

On Wednesday, pupils mostly from primary schools in Lilongwe took to the streets in hundreds, marching and singing against the delay in addressing their teachers’ concerns which they said was affecting the pupils’ schooling.

“We are very disappointed with the strike because we are the direct losers in all this,” one pupil told journalists in Lilongwe.

“We are not learning and we do not know how long this is going to take. We are appealing to government to sort our teachers’ concerns immediately so that we continue learning.”

The protest was generally peaceful except for a few incidents where the children blocked the traffic in some roads in the city and threw debris to passing cars, forcing the Malawi Police Service to intervene to disperse the protesters with teargas.

The pupils marched to the Lilongwe District Education Manager’s Office, where they presented a petition urging the office to address their concerns.

There has been blame game lately, with the Finance Ministry saying Treasury dispersed the teachers’ invigilation allowances and salary arrears long before to the country’s examining body, Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB) and Ministry of Education, respectively.

MANEB and Education Ministry said they had diverted the funds to other “equally pertinent activities” and that they would sort the teachers out at the soonest possible time.

But TUM Secretary General Denis Kalekeni over the weekend said the national sit-in the teachers had embarked on would not stop until government sorted out all the teachers’ grievances “in full and not in part”.

Primary and secondary schools in Malawi officially opened on Sept. 5 for the 2016/2017 academic year running up to July 2017.


Malawi sees falling tobacco sales, revenue

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Tobacco sales for 2016 in Malawi have dropped by 31 percent in revenue realized and 22 percent in volumes sold so far, an Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) Group official said on Tuesday.

Mark Ndipita, Corporate Affairs Manager for AHL Goup, said as of August 19, the country had sold close to 130 million kilograms of tobacco of all types at an average price of 1.52 U.S. dollars per kilogram.

Over the same period in 2015, the country had sold 165.7 million kilograms of tobacco at an average price of 1.79 U.S. dollars per kilogram, raking in 296.1 million dollars.

“In terms of revenue realized compared to last year after 19 weeks of sale, there is a decrease of about 31 percent, and in terms of volumes in kilograms there is a decrease of 22 percent of tobacco sold,” explained Ndipita.

“The decrease in revenue realized and volumes sold when compared to last year can be attributed to low prices, high no-sale rejection rates and reduced competition on the auction system,” he added.

Tobacco is Malawi’s chief foreign exchange earner followed by sugar, and tea. As of 2010, the southern African country was the world’s largest producer of burley tobacco.


15 dead, 40 others injured in road accident in Malawi

MALAWI Malawi (Xinhua) -- Fifteen people, including children, were killed and 40 others injured in a vehicle pile-up in the northern city of Mzuzu in Malawi Friday evening, hospital authorities confirmed.

The accident involved a lorry carrying passengers, two commuter minibuses and a tipper belonging to a construction company.

According to police in Mzuzu, the construction vehicle hit the two minibus commuters, one of which was carrying Christian Sunday School children who were heading to the border district of Karonga for a choir festival.

Reports also say the tailgate of the speeding lorry opened as the vehicle swerved to avoid the pile up, throwing out its passengers onto the tarmac in the process.

Mzuzu Central Hospital Administrator, Timothy Soko, told local media Friday evening that 6 people died at the hospital while 9 others were killed on the spot.

The forty who have sustained serious injuries are being treated at the northern region’s referral hospital.



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