On Tuesday Malawi’s education rights activists took to the streets of the capital Lilongwe to express their anger over continued inaction by the government on problems that have hit the country’s education sector.

Led by the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), the activists implored the government to stop burying its head in the sand in the wake of the teachers’ strike and the closure of Chancellor College.

Teachers from public schools in Malawi are on strike over unpaid leave grants that run into millions of dollars, stretching as far back as five years ago.

The strike is now in its second week.

"Education sector is now falling apart"

On the other hand, lecturers at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the Malawi University, want an increase in their allowances.

Executive Director for CSEC Benedicto Kondowe said, “Malawi’s education sector is now falling apart right now, and only President Mutharika has the mandate to put everything to rest.”

Kondowe has warned the civil society in Malawi will mobilise the nation to march against the education stalemate that has paralysed the education sector, with millions of learners now staying at home.

Meanwhile, Malawi’s Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodal Gondwe, said the process to pay the teachers would take longer than expected.

The Teachers Union of Malawi President Willie Malimba has vowed the nationwide teachers’ strike will continue until the teachers get their dues.

“It is sad that ever since the sit-in started last week, government has not made any efforts to meet us on the way forward,” Malimba said.

The issue has also attracted the attention of the country’s lawmakers

Speaking in Parliament, opposition MPs took turns to bash the government over the matter, saying the delay to pay teachers their leave grants will inevitably affect learners.

One lawmaker described the government’s inaction as “criminal”.

Another lawmaker Richard Chimwendo-Banda said the government was sitting on a time bomb, as people were tired with the stalemate.

While their counterparts in secondary and primary schools are fighting for the leave grants Chancellor College lecturers are on strike over salary disparities.

The lecturers want their allowances to be similar to those of academic staff at College Of Medicine, who have been receiving a 40 percent top-up allowance for clinical services they offer in public hospitals.

But the matter escalated after it was noted that some academic staff at College of Medicine that were not providing such services were also benefitting from the 40 percent top-up allowance.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Emmanuel Fabiano has been refusing to comment on the matter, saying his ministry was not responsible for teachers’ salaries.