The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought life to a standstill across the world, with nearly 178 countries reporting school closures. In Rwanda many public and private sectors have been suspended as a way of prevention among others measure taken by republic of Rwanda, schools that have been suspended until unknown period. Private School closures have had an impact on their teachers and other staff at private schools as their employment contracts have been postponed. On other hand teachers of public school will get paid till schools reopening. Will private school’s teacher survive?
You can’t be judged wrong to say that private school teachers are vulnerable of COVID 19 than other teachers in public schools and other staff working in various services. Covid 19 has an impact today and even after schools reopening which can keep teachers in trouble living a miserable life as a result of the private schools they used to work for, this includes some who will lose their jobs and those who will go on teaching are exposed to hard life trying to fill the gap left by this pandemic such as paying off debts.
According to Abdon Faustin Nkotanyi, Secretary General of Private Schools and Employees syndicate (SYNEDUC), 40 schools were identified to have already suspended employment contracts for their teachers.
During this pandemic, this measure of school’s closure taken to protect populations leaves private schools teachers victims of this Covid 19 as the teachers in public schools are no longer affected as they get their salary as usual.
Vulnerability of Private school’s teachers amid Covid 19?
Schools were closed, work was stalled, and work stalled abruptly so teachers immediately returned home. In daily life they are required to go to the market to feed themselves and their families. As schools got closed abruptly some teachers had no time to save. Also, in the market they go shopping and meet the teachers of the public institutions who are paid as usual, how affordable are products for private teachers?
According to World Bank data, Primary education, teachers in Rwanda were reported at 42073 in 2018, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, 37.94 % are from private schools.
The Minister of education, Valentine Uwamariya has urged private schools including Higher Learning Institutions to leverage the national recovery fund so as to keep teachers on the payroll amid Covid-19 crisis.
“The government is to roll out a special economic recovery fund estimated at over $200 million (approximately Rwf186bn) aimed at supporting local businesses that are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic”. Speaking to The New Times of 04 May 2020 while commenting on the situation where teachers mainly in private schools are complaining of having been laid off by their employers after government closed schools until September.
“Many schools started firing their staff due to financial constraints because they would not be able to pay staff salaries up to September 2020. However, this is not the right approach; they should instead apply for the appropriate relief package as businesses from the government’s economic recovery plan to cater for the welfare of their staff. ” she said.
She urged higher learning institutions to diversify source of funds to support operations once schools re-open in September, 2020.
Private schools say they will not rush to take loans for their teachers because they do not expect them to return
Some representatives of private schools in Rwanda have said that they will not be in a hurry to take out a loan to support their teachers at this time, due to the lack of confidence that these teachers will continue to work for them as the schools reopen.
On 05 May 2020, Charles Mutazihana, a principal of the Kigali Parents School representing other private schools in Rwanda, told Kigali Today that the recipient of the loan should first and foremost be a member of the Umwalimu SACCO even if it still complicated even for the members.
“The problem is that once you give him the money, he can leave, some even leave without any notice to us, so who will pay? Even though we have an agreement, sometimes you they decide to move, it’s very careful not to rush to take money for them. ” Mutazihana told Kigali today.
How will life of teachers look like even after schools reopening?
Private schools usually have its capacity from parents taking students there and paying for school fees for their children to study. Some are wondering if after Covid 19 schools are reopened private schools will not face the problem of student shortages and thus result in employers continuing to lose their jobs.
It is truly acknowledged that the global economy and Rwanda as a whole has been shaken. According to congregational research service’s findings “Global Economic Effects of COVID-19” as Updated June 4, 2020 The pandemic is having a noticeable impact on global economic growth. Estimates so far indicate the virus could trim global economic growth by as much as 2.0% per month if current conditions persist and raise the risks of a global economic recession similar in magnitude to that experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Global trade could also fall by 13% to 32%, depending on the depth and extent of the global economic downturn. This makes some people worried that even after the reopening of the school, many parents will decide not to send their children to private schools and send them to the public ones where they pay low school fees, if this happens always burden for private teachers.
If this happens then the teachers will continue to face the problem of job losses that were sustaining them before the coronavirus outbreak.