By Nsunjo Erica
Private schools have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic that saw the imposition of government directives like the closure of schools, followed by immediate unemployment of staff especially teachers.
Most teachers working in private schools in Kenya have not been paid salaries since April, to survive, many of these teachers on unpaid leave have been forced to find other sources of income.
For many public schools at least, teachers and other staff have received salary payments from the government upon closures and are generally in a better position compared to private schools.
According to Peter Ndoro, the CEO of Kenya’s Private Schools Association, over 300,000 staff working in private schools, including over 107,000 teachers, were most likely sent off on unpaid leave.
Private school teachers that were forced to find other sources of income may never regain their teaching morale especially basing on facts that no one is surely certain of when should reopen.
Private schools may be forced to offer fewer payments to teachers upon reopening since the schools will need more finances to cater to other sections like infrastructures, furniture, and COVID-19 gears to match with government guidelines. Some teachers will lack the morale to work for fewer payments.
“Private schools are unable to pay and sustain the employees on their payroll. So very many private schools since April have not been able to pay their teachers, their salaries and therefore requested that the teachers – together with other members of staff – to proceed on unpaid leave. This has really affected our teachers and we do not know whether they will have the psyche, the morale to come back, and continue teaching our learners when we get to 2021 when the schools eventually reopen.” Said Peter Ndoro.
According to the Kenya Private Schools Association’s previous stats, about 124 private schools in the country were expected to shut down permanently following the huge accumulation of depts. This comes as a result of the closure of institutions in March.
The closure of these many schools will as well lead to unemployment of about 150,000 teachers employed in private schools which same teachers may never be able to get jobs upon reopening based on the limited funds in schools.
CEO Peter Ndoro added that the private schools are on the verge of closure because most investors in the sector can no longer sustain the harsh COVID-18 economic times and many wish to back out of business.
Some private school teachers many never be able to find jobs again even when schools reopen because the situation is expected to be economically tight for school owners who may not be in a position to hire a lot of teachers.
Other private school teachers that found better sources to income may never reapply for teaching jobs that are expected to be offering fewer payments upon reopening.