The Corona Virus contagion has caused immense losses and suffering among millions of Kenyans who have either lost their jobs or experienced a decline in their business earnings. All schools have closed down and thousands of businesses are either shut down or at the brink of closure as well.
Kenyan teachers employed by school Boards of Management (BOM) and private schools are struggling to make ends meet as their employers are no longer able to sustain them. Many BOM and Private School teachers are unable to pay rent or buy food as they have been without salary since March. This has left BOM and private school teachers struggling in an already deflated economy.
Social Media Campaign
Many of them have now gone to the social media to express their frustrations and concerns.
One Tweet reads, “It is clear now that teachers in private school teachers, PTA teachers and BOM teachers* are abandoned, depressed and on their own! Please save us.”
Another one adds, “Save BOM and private school teachers. They are also fellow Kenyans.”
To express their frustrations some of them have even taken the war to TSC on Twitter.
“This is useless when BOM and private school teachers are suffering,” reads one tweet in response to TSC’s invitation for teachers to apply for the Commonwealth Education Awards 2021. Another person said,
“Hey @TSC_KE kindly don’t ignore the plights of BOM teachers. They too have families to feed. Being jobless for three months ain’t a joke.”
Most of the tweets ran with the hash tag #SavePrivateandBOMTeachers as BOM and private school teachers called for fellow citizens to join them in their social media campaign.
The #SavePrivateandBOMTeachers is scheduled to run in the social media, and we must get it to trend today, 9/6/2020 to help our fellow citizens.
Further concerns were thrown at the Labor Union boss Francis Atwoli: “Atwoli instead of Politicking and throwing tantrums on Citizen TV why don’t you #SavePrivateandBOMTeachers. They too are workers and you are mandated to champion for their rights. Do your DAMN JOB!”
A story was also aired on 8th June 2020 on citizen TV of a primary school BOM teacher called Musyoka who fled from his rented house in Kiambu County to avoid paying rent. The landlord locked his house, claiming that Musyoka never paid his rent since February.
At a time when the BOM teacher is not earning salary, and the Nairobi metropolitan area is under lock-down, it is extremely difficult for private school and BOM teachers to make a living. The landlords have to pay water and electricity bills, maintain their apartments, and meet their basic needs too. Thus, this situation is more of a complete fiasco than a mere social media war. It needs attention and immediate remedy.
What can be done
While TSC or the Ministry of Education can do nothing to help them, there is need for the state to include PTA, BOM and private school teachers in the cash transfer programme that has been implemented by the government to help vulnerable groups in this difficult period.
So far, companies in the hospitality industries have benefited from the programme to help them keep employees on the payroll. Musicians have also received their stipends from the state. However, private primary and secondary schools are not included in the project. Perhaps it is time for government to include the 72,000 of BOM and private school teachers in the money kitty targeted for susceptible groups during the pandemic, as recently announced by the president.
Why not, and yet millions of money are unaccounted for through the #Money Heist ordeal that is ailing the Ministry of Health?
Corruption in a pandemic
A media report written by Waiga Mwaura of Citizen TV, and published by BBC, suggests that 1.3 billion shillings donated by World Bank to help the government of Kenya in the fight against Covid-19 has been misappropriated; or at least spent in a questionable manner. Fifteen leased ambulances, for instance, were said to have cost over 42 million shillings. There was also a screaming 70 million shillings allocated for communication, when Safaricom and media houses have already contributed much of the communication costs.
It is a great shame that we can still afford corruption amidst a pandemic. Meanwhile, BOM and private school teachers live on grants and debts, wishing for a better tomorrow.