Jobless teachers turn to menial jobs, farming to survive

Thursday, July 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Launch of Kazi Mtaani in Kicheko slums in Mlolongo. Photo/PD/CHRISTINE MUSA

Irene Githinji, Roy Lumbe and Bonface Msangi 

Thousands of teachers employed by the Boards of Management (BoM) in hundreds of schools across the country are living from hand-to-mouth after going without salaries since the closure of all learning institutions due to the coronavirus disease.

The teachers, estimated at 100,000 spread across the country’s public secondary and primary schools have been forced to turn to other income generating activities to make ends meet.

Some of the teachers interviewed by People Daily revealed they had been enlisted in the government-funded Kazi Mtaani programme while other have turned to farming to eke out a living as they await the reopening of learning institutions in January 2021.

“We have not received salaries since March after the government ordered the closure of all learning institutions and now, the reopening of schools has been pushed to January, we had to seek other ways to make a living,” Felix Nyanche, a BOM teacher in a Nakuru school told People Daily yesterday.

Nyanche said he opted to enlist in the Kazi Mtaani program to fend for his family and the money he gets on a daily basis not only keeps him going but also allows him to settle a few bills.

He urged other teachers to embrace decent jobs that earn them a living as opposed to languishing in poverty as they wait another five months for schools to resume.

But as they seeking alternative measures, they are hopeful of urgent government’s intervention as the effects of coronavirus disease hit the reality.

“You should not have a fixed mind in this country anything can happen and life has to continue, I used to sell fingerlings after the closure of schools and it was feeding the family, we are vulnerable,” said Nyanche.

Another teacher Jacob Nyamwega said difficulties to pay rent and put food on the table for his family forced him to also join the Kazi Mtaani programme, which has uplifted him thus far.

 “In the line of duty, we have encountered students we have taught as supervisors of the programme.

It has lowered our self-esteem but that aside, we must work and feed our families because we are still not sure when schools will open, it requires a strong will to work under such conditions,” said Nyamwenga.

Shillah Mrutu, is another BOM teacher struggling to make ends meet since she has not received her salary since March but has to fend for her family.

“We have not been receiving our salaries since April and nothing has been communicated.

Our biggest hope is that the disease will go away and we resume our teaching job,” Shillah told People Daily yesterday.

Shillah is a mother of two and a teacher at St Brigids, Siumbwa in Bungoma.

It has not been easy for her now that no salary has been forthcoming and has turned to farming to feed her family.

 “We have no payment at all and we are really struggling. I have tried my luck on farming and we are still learning since its still a new venture, it has been really tough.

We are hoping that the curve for coronavirus flattens soon and we resume by January,” said Shillah.

Sylvester Odhiambo, a resident of Bagladesh Slum in Mombasa and a teacher at St Maries Primary school is current selling samosa as his new job.

Odhiambo who has 12-years working experience as a teacher said he has ventured into samosa business, which he sells each at Sh5.

He said starting the business was tough as he faced ridicule, which considers teachers as great people but later come to adapt.

“A majority of my customers are youths employed under Kazi Mtaani programme.

This is not my career but what should I do, at least it puts food on the table,” said Odhiambo.

It is the same script for yet another BoM teacher, Stephen Oguto who works in a private school in Nakuru.

He said a number of teachers have had their contracts terminated because of inability to sustain their payrolls. 

Oguto said most teachers employed by BOMs and private institutions have been left destitute and are finding to pay rent and other bills. 

“Unlike government schools, private schools do not receive capitation, this could have really cushioned us during this time,” said Oguto. 

The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KSSHA) Chairman Kahi Indimuli said a majority of public schools are also struggling to pay BoM teachers, non-teaching staff and other utilities since March.

“We have been asking the government to release at least 30 percent of capitation funds and retain those meant for tuition fees, that was meant for second term to cater for BoM teachers and non-teaching staff salaries,” Indimuli said.

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