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Private schools suspend contracts for teachers

By Caroline Chebet and Julius Chepkwony | April 16th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Hundreds of private school teachers in Nakuru County have had their contracts suspended as the school shutdown heads to the third month.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all schools closed on March 13 to counter the spread of Covid-19 in Kenya.

According to letters sent to the teachers by their employers and interviews with officials of the Private Schools Owners Association, the contracts have been suspended indefinitely.

The schools, in their notifications to the teachers, said the contracts remain suspended because of inability to sustain their payrolls.

Nakuru County Private Schools Owners Association Chairman John Waweru said the institutions took the decision due to the prevailing circumstances.

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"Some of our members have delayed the decision as they try to get school fees arrears from parents to keep their staff on the payroll," said Mr Waweru.

He advised members to follow labour laws on contracts.

"It is not the wish of members to take such action. We are humane but we also need to ensure that everyone is taken care of during this trying times," said Waweru

April and May

In one of the letters seen by The Standard, a private school has notified its teachers that the suspension of contract for the month of April and May will be treated like a normal holiday.

“This is taken to save the situation of any legitimacy that may arise later on. We all feel for you but we have nothing to do but to protect the school for future sustainability,” a letter to the staff by St Joseph’s Kirandich Secondary school in Nakuru noted.

The school noted that the staff might not be able to sign their contracts as was the norm whenever school re-opens.

In another letter by Carol Academy, the school notifies all teaching and non-teaching staff of unpaid leave.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances caused by Covid-19 worldwide, the board of management of Carol Academy has decided to allow you to proceed on unpaid leave effective April 1, 2020 until further notice as directed by the national government,” the letter read.

The board explained that with all schools closed it was difficult to generate income to run operations.

“We regret this action but have no alternative as the school is no longer operational. We pray and hope that the situation will improve in the coming days when we shall inform you to resume work,” the letter stated.

Henry Ogada, the principal of Kings Academy, said the current situation posed a challenge in keeping staff on the payroll because private schools were no longer generating incomes.

“We are banking on parents who had some fee arrears for their children to pay our staff,” said Mr Ogada.

The uncertainty of when the pandemic will be contained so that normal operations can resume also posed a major challenge for private schools leading to the indefinite suspension of contracts.

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