Teachers may be forced to cut short their covid-19 holiday and report back to schools, if the latest circular by the ministry of education is to go by. According to the contents of the circular, seen by this reporter, most public schools have been left unattended since schools were closed in mid-March as a precautionary measure to curb spread of covid-19 in learning institutions.
The ministry is concerned that school properties have been exposed to vandalism and theft as a result of the pro-longed absence of teachers and learners.
“This is to inform you that reports reaching us indicate that most learning institutions are left unmanned in the day and night, therefore exposing our institutions to vandalism and theft,” reads a memo from the Ministry officials to secondary school principals and primary school head teachers.
With re-opening of basic learning institutions pushed to January next year, the ministry has now directed school administrators ‘to ensure that schools are guarded during the day and night.’ This directive will open a Pandora’s box as most schools sent staff on unpaid leaves. School guards who should otherwise safeguard institutions’ properties have received no salaries for the last over 4 months as school accounts ran dry.
WHO MANAGES TEACHERS
What will cause a storm among the teachers’ circles is another directive that requires ‘teachers to be deployed on duty as usual’. With most teachers staying far away from schools it will be almost impossible to have them on duty at this time.
Pictures that have been doing rounds on social media platforms show the sorry state of schools; with some classrooms invaded by anthills. But, the ministry now wants ‘bushes in school compounds to be cleared’.
Management of teachers is the sole responsibility of the Teachers Service Commission, TSC. The ministry has been at logger heads with the teachers’ employer over this key role. Consequently, unless such orders to have teachers manning schools are issued by TSC the teachers may opt to ignore directives from other quarters.
A section of the media and Kenyans have been pushing for the suspension of payment of teachers’ salaries. Proponents hold that the government should not pay teachers as they are ‘off’ duty; terming them ‘idle’.
TSC has indicated that salary increments for teachers will be paid at the end of July; as agreed in the current CBA.
This move did not go down well with teachers who turned to social media to castigate those moving the agenda; to have their salaries chopped.
Again, some other schools are being used as covid-19 isolation centres. Having teachers report to such institutions will only further escalate spread of the deadly virus.
Some other campaigners have been pushing for re-assignment of new roles to teachers. The list of the so called ‘patriotic duties’ is long. From manning places of worship, working at ‘Huduma’ centres to enforcing curfews and covid-19 health regulations….
It remains to be seen if indeed teachers will be pushed back to schools to do the menial jobs.
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