Thousands of schools are struggling to maintain teachers employed by the boards of management on payroll as Covid-19 takes a heavy toll on the country’s basic education.
The tutors are hired by parents to support those posted to schools by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
Some learning institutions have sent the teachers and instructors on unpaid leave. Others have not paid their salaries for the last two months, the Nation has established.
The country is grappling with a shortage of some 130,000 primary and secondary school teachers. While the average teacher to learner ratio is 1:45, most schools operate on 1:60 or more.
The commission says more than 30,000 teachers are employed by school boards.
Principals interviewed said they have run short of funds to pay the teachers since schools are not getting anything from the Ministry of Education.
Siaya Education Director Joseph Wamocho said 60 per cent of teachers in the county are recruited by school boards. Lwak Girls — a national school — has 35 such teachers while Ng’iya Girls has 28.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Siaya branch executive secretary Sam Opondo said many of the teachers have been sent on unpaid leave.
He added that the union is looking for ways of helping the teachers financially and called on schools to ensure they are paid.
Mr Opondo added that public secondary schools are in financial problems.
At Asumbi Girls High School in Homa Bay County, some 48 teachers may not get their May pay. “I’m not sure where to get the money to pay the teachers and other employees,” Asumbi Principal Linet Sati told Nation.
The situation is the same at Oriwo Boys High School in Rachuonyo North, which has 38 such teachers. Oriwo School Principal Maurice Okal said the teachers were last paid in April.
“I gathered some money from local accounts, which I used as salary in March,” Mr Okal said.
Some schools have already informed their teachers to brace themselves for tough times.
Mr Victor Ochieng, a high school teacher in Nyakach, Kisumu County, said he received communication that payment of salary has been suspended indefinitely.
“I received half pay in March. The school has informed us not to expect anything until the students are recalled,” he told the Nation.
The same situation prevails in Kakamega County. Headteachers say they depend on fees to pay the teachers.
Principals and headteachers say they have been instructed by the Ministry of Education not to take bank overdrafts.
“We feel the heat and don’t know what will happen. We don't have money to settle the May salaries,” a teacher told the Nation.
Kakamega Kuppet secretary Harrison Otota said the situation is dire.
“Things are tough. These teachers have needs too. Schools should make arrangements to pay even half their salaries,” Mr Otota said.
In Kisii County, principals say they are not in a position to pay the teachers. Many teachers, however, received their March and April salaries.
Kisii High School principal Maurice Ogutu said his administration has exhausted all the resources.
“If nothing is done, we will not pay our 15 teachers and other employees,” Mr Ogutu said.
It is the same case at Itierio Boys School. Itierio head Isaac Oreyo said the school has five board teachers.
Kereri Girls High School principal Teresia Atieno said she could use the cash meant for infrastructure to pay the 26 teachers.
“We settled April salaries and we could pay for June and July but not after,” she said.
Ms Atieno added that most students had not cleared fees by the time they ware leaving school in March.
“We recruited more teachers due to the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school policy. Not paying them is not our fault,” Ms Atieno said.
Nduru Girls Principal Grace Oduor said eight teachers will not be paid this month.
At Sabatia Technical Training College in Vihiga County, some 24 instructors have gone without their March and April salaries.
College principal Gilbert Mwavali said the institution relies on money from the Higher Education Loans Board, funding from the ministry and tuition fee.
He added that the college has not received money since its 800 students left when learning institutions countrywide were ordered closed.
Some principals in Vihiga County said the teachers’ salaries would be stopped if the situation persists.
Chavakali Boys High School principal John Kuria said the 25 teachers hired by the board have received their April salaries.
Mr Kuria, however, added that they will get their May pay but the situation would change if students are not recalled.
COFFERS RUNNING DRY
“We heavily rely on boarding fees. If the government bails us out, we will have no problem paying our teachers,” Mr Kuria told the Nation.
The principal added that Chavakali Boys High School pays Sh500,000 to the teachers every month.
“The amount excludes other workers. The total annual salaries of the board teachers is Sh6 million,” the principal added.
Instructors at Friends College Kaimosi in the same county have been receiving their salaries.
The management, however, says the situation could change if learning does not resume.
The eight teachers at Moses Mudavadi Primary School in Sabatia Constituency are still getting paid.
However, Mr Eboso Kihima, the headteacher, echoed the sentiments of his colleagues in secondary schools and colleges when he said payment could stop if the children remain at home.
Mr Kihima added that the school coffers are running dry.
Reported by George Odiwuor, Benson Ayienda, Benson Amadala, Elizabeth Ojina, Dickens Wasonga and Derrick Luvega