Broke Private schools have asked the government to consider teachers in their institutions as a vulnerable group as they count months of no pay.
Private schools suspended salaries for their teachers over the coronavirus outbreak that forced the closure of all learning institutions but maintain they will not sack them.
With the closure set to continue to September, Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive officer Peter Ndoro warned that teachers could be staring at five months of starvation and no pay.
“Just like tourism, we have asked the Education ministry and the Treasury to consider our members as a vulnerable group so that they can get some basic support,” Ndoro said.
However, he declined to divulge details of the negotiations or the cost of implementation if agreed, noting it was still work in progress.
“This is a sector that has been completely shut down. Schools do not have alternative sources of income apart from the school fees paid,” he told the Star in a phone interview.
Ndoro said the private institutions employ more than 288,000 teachers across the country.
The effects were immediate, hitting their day to day budgets for rent, utility bills, food and clothing.
Teachers said the family’s immediate measures to cut on non-essentials and diversify to other jobs is the new normal as they try to make ends meet.
But worst is yet to come after the extension of schools shut down to September, says Paul Kirobi, a teacher in a Nairobi school.
Some teachers in public schools employed on contract by the boards of management are also suffering from the loss of salary.
The government closed schools on March 15 to stop the spread coronavirus.
“Schools with elaborate online learning are able to pay their teachers though not in full amount but others have completely been drained,” Ndoro added.
Concerns already exist that teachers across the country are not well-prepared for the havoc the virus outbreak will cause in the education sector.
Another challenge is that many schools had not received the full amount of first term fees.
On Tuesday, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers secretary general Akello Misori backed the proposal by the institutions.
He said the institutions could be listed to receive help from the government as they are a critical government partner in the provision of education.
“If schools do not get fees, then families of teachers will face difficulties. This is a sector the government should look at and consider how they can come in,” Misori said.
He said education was an essential service and private schools supplement the government shortfall and should be supported during the pandemic.