EXPLOITED

Private school teachers at mercy of proprietors

They have endured years of abuse and mistreatment from their employers.

In Summary
  • To leave a labour force of 200,000 teachers to the mercy of school owners is to expose them to exploitation by money hungry proprietors.
  • There should be a scheme of service for teachers in private schools
Teachers at Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayyed Primary School in Mombasa county Aug 4, 2015.
Teachers at Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayyed Primary School in Mombasa county Aug 4, 2015.
Image: FILE

Yesterday was World Teachers’ Day. But for the more than 200,000 teachers working in the private schools’ sector, there was nothing to write home about. And, it has very little to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Since mid-March, teachers in the private schools have had to contend with either significantly reduced or no salaries at all. This is despite the fact that their counterparts in the public sector continue to draw salaries six months down the line.

Private school teachers have had to engage in demeaning jobs and all manner of odd tasks to fend for their families. They have been stigmatised and laughed at as they try to cope with the pandemic.

 

Although working in the private sector is more lucrative than in the government , the reality has now dawned on teachers that the former is very fragile and the job security is untenable.

Most private school teachers are now languishing in states of uncertainties. Most have had to relocate to the villages as they could no longer raise house rents. As the pandemic ravages schools all over the country, private school teachers are hardest hit. 

This labour force should form their own labour union to agitate for and safeguard their rights. The teachers have endured years of abuse and mistreatment from their employers, ranging from dismissals without justifiable reasons to meagre salaries.

The government should make laws to promote good terms of engagement between the two parties. To leave a labour force of 200,000 teachers to the mercy of school owners is to expose them to exploitation by money hungry proprietors.

Secondly, and most urgent, there should be a scheme of service for teachers in private schools. Different schools remunerate teachers differently, exposing them to exploitation. Career progression and promotion are dependent on one’s relationship with the boss, throwing merit out of the window.

Sycophancy has taken the place of meritocracy, thus, promoting unhealthy competition and mediocrity.

Thirdly, the working conditions and relations of private school teachers need to be improved. Out of desperation, these teachers ‘accept’ to work for long hours with little pay. Their renumeration is not proportionate to man-hours they put in. Employers are quick to punish and deduct them money at will.

Further, since private schools are equal opportunity employers, they should initiate pension schemes for their employees.

Lastly, there is the thorny issue of employee-employer relationships. There exists-love-hate relationships between these two parties. There is no neutral arbitrator who can resolve their differences. There is need for a commission similar to the Teachers Service Commission. If these measures are met, this forgotten lot will have reason to celebrate World’s Teachers’ Day.