Private school teachers bear brunt of long break
Irene Githinji and Robert Ochoro
Teachers employed by Boards of Management (BOM) in public schools and those teaching in private institutions are bearing the brunt of the prolonged suspension of classes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The teachers are concerned about their financial situation and are seeking urgent intervention to cushion them from losing their source of livelihood.
Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) chief executive officer Peter Ndoro, yesterday said the schools are in dire need of assistance since they do not have the benefit of government disbursements to cater for various activities.
With the current state of affairs, Ndoro said many schools might not be in a position to pay their staff beyond August owing to financial constraints.
“Private schools have closed and the magnitude of the situation is worsening.
We are not sure whether we will manage our teaching and non-teaching staff beyond August despite them taking pay cuts and others proceeding on leave,” he regretted.
Unlike public schools which receive financial support from the Government, Ndoro said the major source of income to run private schools is obtained from fees.
He has since urged the Government to come to their rescue before teachers and non-teaching staffs lose their source of income.
The situation, he said, would be further worsened as the January re-opening date approaches since they will be required to comply with strict health protocols set out by the ministry of Health, which will come at an additional cost.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the education sector which is one of the biggest losers, particularly the private schools.
But it is not only private institutions that are cash strained. 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.
He said some of the teachers and non- teaching staff have not been paid since March.
“We have been asking the Government to release at least 30 per cent 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 stated.
He said the money would also go a long way in paying for utilities such as electricity and security.
“Kenya Power and Lighting Company is threatening to disconnect electricity of some of the schools with huge arrears, which is very dangerous. When a school is in darkness, it gives an opportunity for hooliganism,” he said.
Wycliffe Nyagaka, a teacher at Britom Academy in Kisii County, said they have not been paid salaries since proprietors rely on school fees to pay them.
Nyagaka, who lives in Kisii town, said a majority of his colleagues are unable to pay rent and feed their families.
“The hard economic life has forced some teachers to relocate to their rural homes to cut costs,” Nyagaka told People Daily yesterday.
He has since resorted to selling books and examination materials to make some money. However, he is hopeful that the disease will be controlled and schools reopened.
“A majority of teachers were shocked when the ministry announced that schools will be reopened in January 2021. I am calling on my fellow teachers to embrace other economic ventures and projects to survive.”
Samwel Gekonge, proprietor of Precious Hope Academy in the same county, said the closure of schools caught them off guard.
He cannot afford to pay teachers and other workers, a situation worsened by the fact that many parents had not cleared fees.
“I secured a loan and before I could access it, the bank had started deducting interest.
The situation is bad. I would like to call on our teachers to bear with the owners of the schools,” Gekonge pleaded.
Separately, a Nakuru-based Kenya National Union of Private School Teachers (KNUPST) said there is need for urgent intervention to address their plight.
The KNUPST secretary general Manuel Markey said in a statement that they are in dire need of resources for the sake of their livelihood.
“Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the vulnerable BOM, Parents-Teachers Association and private school teachers are in dire need of upkeep and basic provisions like food, shelter and medication among other essentials.
Their only source of livelihood has been cut off since March,” said Markey.
He said the over 2,000 registered teachers in Nakuru alone have been affected.
“Let us take care of our teachers and they will take care of our children,” he added.