By PETER KOMBE
Private school teachers in Mombasa County have urged the government to set aside a special kit in a bid to address the myriad of challenges facing them during this period the country is battling with coronavirus.
According to the teachers, they have been rendered jobless since the closure of schools by the government in March this year.
Speaking to the media in Mombasa on Wednesday, Mombasa county private schools association (KPSA) chairperson Omar Mbuli said like any other teacher they depend on school fees for their upkeep and supporting their subordinates’ staff.
Mbuli adds that most of them have become vulnerable revealing that they have even attempted suicides.
“Private school teachers lack some of the basic necessities such as foodstuff for their families. We have not received any relief food from the government,” he noted.
According to him a total of 114 private schools in Mombasa County have been shut down due to the coronavirus.
The chairperson observed that private school teachers have been denied access to their rental houses due to an accumulation of monthly rent.
“Teachers have been unable to pay rent leading to the closure of their houses. I appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into our plight,” the chair.
He warned Kenya national union of teacher’s secretary general (KNUT) Wilson Sossion against popping into the affairs of private schools.
“Keep off from private schools alone. Leave us alone,” he insisted
At the same time, KPSA treasurer Elisha Mwango revealed that some private school teachers have been turned away at the ongoing Kazi Mtaani government project.
He however lauded some of the sub counties that have recruited teachers in the national program.
“We have never heard any approach from the government to assist us. We appeal to the government to channel funds to us,” he said.
Mwango notes that there is need for the government to put intervention measures to ensure that teachers are cushioned in the COVID-19 relief fund.
Meanwhile, Changamwe- Jomvu sub county private schools chairperson Lilian Ogutu said private school teachers are no different from public school teachers.
According to Ogutu they deserve equal treatment like their public schools counterparts.
She says it is ironic for public school teachers to lament on being depressed yet they are under government payroll.
“We are here as private school teachers to present our grievances. We play a pivotal role in this country,” she said.
Ms Ogutu expressed her disappointment towards the government noting that they have not received any COVID-19 relief food from both the two levels of government.
The teacher revealed that most private school teachers have turned to menial jobs such as; carrying loads in markets centres.
Haki Africa Rapid Response Officer Mathias Shipeta threatened to demonstrate should the government fail to address the plight facing private school teachers.
He wants the government to intervene and look for an amicable solution to the problem.
“As activists we will soon go to the street and take action. This is the language the government understands,” he said.
According to the activist, allocating sh1 billion kitty to cushion teachers during this period is a petty issue for the government.
He says as human right defenders they would ensure they are cushioned in the COVID-19 national emergency relief fund.
“We will not allow teachers to die due to the coronavirus. Some teachers have died because of depression,” Shipeta claimed
Most of the private schools are situated in urban regions of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret among others where parents can afford the high fees charged.
International schools have also attracted many students, majority from the elite parents and diplomats.
Some of the private schools in Mombasa County include Sheikh Khalifa Aga Khan Academy, Light Academy, Mombasa Baptist High School, Memon High School, St. Monica academy Secondary School, Alidina Visram among others.