The growing frustration among teachers is having a devastating impact on the education sector in Kenya as teachers scramble for opportunities outside the country where teaching is considered lucrative and the working conditions humane.
Cited for this new development are numerous vagaries, including the substantial pay gap between teachers and civil servants, the latter enjoying several benefits over and above what teachers get.
This disparity, compounded by numerous deductions, leaves teachers financially strained and diminishes the appeal of the teaching profession locally.
Apart from mandatory deductions like the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF), additions such as provident fund, union fees as well as the recently eliminated medical allowance have further eroded teachers’ take-home pay.
The introduction of the Housing Fund, deducting 1.5 per cent of salaries for affordable housing construction, has been criticized, particularly by those who have already secured homes.
Teachers with existing loans face additional challenges as loan repayments feature prominently on their pay stubs.
The sub-optimal working conditions has the potential to further strain the already beleaguered education sector that is grappling with a shortage of over 100,000 teachers exacerbated by retirements and deaths.
The Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) increased rates have elevated personal loan costs, impacting teachers and worsening the overall financial strain.
Additionally, lack of timely and transparent promotions is cited as another demotivating factor, prompting educators to seek opportunities better opportunities abroad where working conditions are perceived to be more favourable.
It is further aggravated by the discontinuation of a system where teachers could pursue further education for promotion, disillusioning them even more.
Speaking during interviews conducted by PesuaR International Job Placement Consultancy, which facilitates teaching opportunities in the USA, those seeking greener pastures emphasized the need for the Kenyan government to enhance teacher remuneration to stem the brain drain.
The consultancy, represented by Dr. Peter Ruhiri, plans to enroll more teachers in the programme next year, addressing the growing demand for international opportunities where they earn up to Ksh400,000 a month.
By Viola Chepkemoi
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