Tough Covid times push educator to hawk fish, grocery

Monday, August 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Teacher Gladys Sayo at her shop in Kongowea, Mombasa county. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

With her usual monthly income all dried up due to Covid-19 pandemic, Gladys Sayo 47, a Mombasa based teacher has now turned to vegetable and fish vending to eke a living.

Sayo, a single mother of two, is a teacher at Precious Twins Academy, in Kongowea, with over 20 years teaching experience.

Her life took a turn close to  six months ago, when the national government announced closure of schools as a measure to contain coronavirus.

“Life became very unbearable, I had no option but to open a kiosk to sell vegetables and fried fish.

I make about Sh120 per day but at times it is tough, I go home empty handed,” Sayo said.

Her school was not spared either. The school’s owner ordered them to go home with no pay, as all revenue streams were cut short by the pandemic.

Sayo, a certificate holder in early childhood education, has a Teachers’ Service Commission registration number, which she acquired after completing her training at the Kwale District Centre for Early Childhood Education in 2002.

Biggest challenge

She has taught in private schools all her life and the pain of not getting government employment, has remained her biggest challenge.

Her wish is that the national government should consider trained teachers in the ongoing stipend to cushion them from the wrath of the virus.

“I don’t know why I have never been employed in the government’s early childhood programme,” Sayo told People Daily during an interview at her Kiosk in Maweni village, Nyali sub-county.

Her daughter, Juliet, dropped out of Kenya Coast National Polytechnic where she was studying diploma in ICT due to lack of fees.

Her son Rodgers is a student at Embu University taking a degree in statistics.

Permanent closure

Her hope is now on re-opening of schools in January, 2021 but that will be determined if her school manages to survive the Covid-19 shock.

Most private schools are staring at complete shutdown , as majority of them have been unable to sustain their rent.

Sayos’ woes represent a huge number of teachers, who are suffering on the streets, after their only source of income was cut short by the pandemic.

The teachers say that about 1,500 private schools in Mombasa now face permanent closure over rent arrears.

According to the Kenya Private Schools Association chairman Mombasa Chapter Omar Mbuli, lack of liquidity has heavily affected schools’ ability to meet critical monthly commitments.

Mbuli said the situation is set to get worse , since there will only be a gradual re-opening of schools starting January 2021.

“By the time schools re-open, things will be worse as many schools will have completely shut down due to rent arrears.

This will impact negatively on hundreds of learners , particularly in private schools,” said Mbuli.

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