Crisis looms as teachers seek better jobs abroad
A considerable percentage of teachers employed by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) have opted to seek greener pastures abroad owing to poor working conditions in Kenya, a move that could destabilise the already struggling sector.
The mass exodus, coupled with the number of teachers who retire and or die every month could further strain the education system that is already facing a deficit of over 100,000 tutors.
Most teachers are leaving the offer provided by the employer over small pay that is not commensurate with the current economic times when prices for basics have shot through the roof.
Teachers who spoke to journalists raised concern that the pay disparity between teachers and civil servants is too wide, a situation that continues to impoverish them despite their crucial role in shaping the country’s future.
Led by Lydiah Wanjiru and Mburu Kariuki, the teachers further took issue with the government over extreme deductions of their meagre pay that at times leave them with a negative pay, especially for those who have secured development loans from local financial institutions.
Besides the basic statutory deductions that the employer deducts from their salaries such as the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF), a raft of other deductions has continued to demotivate teachers who are mandated to transfer their knowledge to learners.
Among the extra deductions include provident fund, a scheme that pays out lump sums and other similar benefits to teachers who leave their jobs or to the dependents of employees who die and union agency and or association fee that is charged depending on which union a teacher subscribes to.
“Kenyan teachers are left with nothing after deductions. Unlike in the past when the profession was respected, it has continued to lose taste as teachers nowadays cannot survive without loans. It is sad that more deductions have been introduced reducing our pay even further,” Kariuki told journalists.
The recently scrapped teachers’ medical allowance is also a major challenge that teachers feel was unwisely implemented before they were forcefully registered to the controversial Aon Minet insurance cover.
Newly introduced Housing Fund that has seen teachers receive 1.5 per cent less of their salaries from July this year to cater for construction of affordable housing units in the country has also been described as irrational, especially for those who have already managed to put up their homes.
Teachers who have loans from banks, cooperatives, or microfinance organisations have also been experiencing deductions for loan repayment on their pay stubs.
Increased personal loan rates as a result of Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) increase in borrowing rates for private banks have also seen teachers’ pay personal loans at higher interest rates.
In addition to making it more expensive for instructors to repay loans, higher interest rates have pushed the cost of items available on the market.
According to the teachers, skewed and delayed promotions are also motivating most of them out of the profession while others are seeking to practice it abroad where terms of operation are friendly.
“In the past, a teacher would further their education and later present their papers for promotion but the promotion thing stopped. This has been demotivating more teachers from taking their education further for self-professional development,” Lucy Mwangi, a teacher said.
Speaking during interviews conducted by PesuaR International Job Placement Consultancy that has been offering the teachers remarkable opportunities to teach at various institutions in America, the educators called on the government to streamline and better the remuneration to teachers to reduce the exodus that will eventually deprive the country of its brilliant minds which might lower the quality of education offered to learners.
During the interviews that will see 85 teachers with Education degrees travel to and immerse themselves in the USA teaching culture, tens of educators turned up, signifying the thirst of educators to find greener pastures elsewhere in the world.
Dr Peter Ruhiri, a representative of the consultancy who spoke to journalists in Juja where the interviews were conducted said that more teachers will be enrolled in the program next year once more teaching opportunities arise.
“For a teacher to qualify, one must have a degree in education, be able to handle the discipline of learners in the USA education culture and exhibit passion of working in a new environment,” said Ruhiri.
Last year, 12 teachers were placed for the same jobs, a position that has been making them earn a monthly salary of Sh400,000.