BY TIMOTHY KIAMBATI
There is a silent but agonizing cry by private school teachers across the nation. Since the abrupt closure of schools early March that was occasioned by the Coronavirus, private school teachers have been going without salaries.
This is despite the fact that they already had pending bills to settle especially in terms of house rents as well as meet their normal daily needs.
The covid-19 global pandemic has exposed the underbelly of private school proprietors. Most private school teachers are on indefinite unpaid leave. One can only imagine the damaging effects of this uncertainty. What these teachers are going through is unfathomable. If no mitigation is quickly devised, the financial and psychological effects on the teachers will be unbearable.
Covid-19 is re-writing the scripts of relationships between private school employees and employers, which has hit rock bottom. It is irredeemably damaged.
The private education sector is very lucrative many teachers have always preferred working there than in the public sector but after this health crisis, teachers must go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their contracts with their employers. Are their labour contracts tenable going forward?
Asking your employees to proceed on indefinite leave without caring to know how they would cope with their daily lives is cruelty on the part of school proprietors. These teachers may not voice their concerns for fear of reprisals but pretending that private school teachers are okay after going for months without salaries is to be an insensitive employer. Some schools even with flowing bank accounts are taking advantage of the virus to deny teachers salaries.
That directors of private schools can afford to conduct paid up zoom meetings to assess and analyze school re-opening scenarios while their teachers are hawking avocados in the estates is the height of insensitivity. How unfeeling are these school owners?
In the agenda for their Webinar virtual discussions are bank loans and the state of their parked school buses. The plight of their teachers who toiled and moiled for them to be able to repay the bank loans every month does not feature in the zoom meetings that are punctuated with laughter and digital excitement or is it digital illiteracy?
I don’t know how these brazen directors will face the rage of their teachers when schools finally resume. If there was a time these teachers needed their bosses to demonstrate love for what they do for them is now. Instead the proprietors have abandoned them. Sending letters of indefinite leave via social media is senseless. Pretending that you do not know your teachers are suffering is being a bad employer.
Private school teachers are now engaging in all manner of strange jobs to cope, exposed to their own pupils who witness the toiling they go through to stay afloat. The respect with which these learners hold their teachers is getting eroded because their employer has decided to abandon them
Private schools that are poorly run ought to close down. That is the basic principle of business management not just schools. Instead of feeling for their teachers who have families to feed and bills to pay, directors are lamenting that schools will close down. Let them close so they can learn.
Private school teachers need to be allowed to form or join unions. To continue denying private school teachers salaries while their counter parts in TSC are getting their salaries is to have two sets of rules for the country.
The education CS is on record saying all the Kenyan learners belong to the same government whether they study in private or public schools. There is no private or public child. Correct. Clear. Why should private school teachers suffer for a fault that is not their making?
The moribund Kenya Private Schools Association is clueless. Even after being privileged to sit in the National Education Covid-19 Committee that advised the President on school re-opening, they squandered the opportunity to share the plight of the private school teachers and advance their concerns. Nobody seems to understand their plight yet when schools re-open they will be expected to deliver. Shame.