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The Cry of a BOM teacher: “Help us we are broke!”

The novel Coronavirus has paralyzed almost everything since March and this forced many Kenyans to go through a harrowing experience of making ends meet with little in their pockets. While the government released a stimulus package to some areas of the economy, BOM teachers never featured in any stimulus package. Even after Vihiga KUPPET Executive Nebert Isambe implored the government to release personal emoluments to schools to allow active votes like salaries, water bills, electricity bills, and other expenditures to be paid, the government resorted to a blind eye.

Since the closure of schools in March, many BOM teachers countrywide and those teaching private schools have lived like dogs. It is worrying to think of how they are making ends meet in these hard times. They are not able to afford to buy food and other basic needs leave alone paying rent arrears.

Mr. John Kisendu, (not his real name) from Bomet County told Teacher.co.ke that he has not received a salary for four months now from his employer, a secondary school in Bomet County. He owes Mama Mboga, rent arrears to his landlord and he still has a family of three children to take care of. Taking care of his family has not been easy for him in this period and he has been hoping that the government can do something to help ease the burden that COVID -19 has caused.

“Mama Mbogas’ have grown tired of me. It is a big problem as I have to look every day for another excuse. It is also difficult to beg on the streets as I am a well-known and respected teacher around here. I have resorted to doing manual work of feeding a neighbor’s cow every morning and even that is not enough to feed my family.

“The cow owner is a friend of mine and he understands the problem I am going through but he can only do so much. My wife is worried that I am not able to take care of my family. I fear that I could even lose my family because I am not as able as I was to take care of them,’ he said.

Elsewhere, in Siaya County the police apprehended a female teacher for stealing from a supermarket.

Another BOM teacher in the Bonchari area, Kisii County resorted to working on his neighbors’ pieces of land. Mr. Johnstone is not at peace with his new job as his neighbors have certainly not resisted the urge to gossip and mock him. His wife has urged him to look for another job other than working on the villagers’ shambas. He has not been successful in finding another hustle.

“My wife found out that I was working on shambas in the village with other village men. She complains that the job is not befitting of a graduate and more so a teacher teaching a secondary school even if it is on BOM terms,” said Mr. Johnstone.

“However, I had to swallow my pride and not listen to her because at the end of the day it is up to me to provide for the family. He added.

Many BOM teachers have now turned to menial jobs to help alleviate the financial strain they are going through in this period. This ranges from boda boda operators and even working at ‘Mjengo’ at many building and construction sites in the country. This has made colleagues at these new working areas to look down upon the unpaid and even make a mockery of them, negatively tainting the teaching profession.


The government cannot afford to keep a blind eye as even BOM teachers too are shaping the future of the students they are teaching. The government should release money for personal emoluments to schools to enable principals to be able to sort BOM teachers and other non-teaching staff. The bags of rice and maize gave to the non-teaching staff will not help them for long.

Surely if we can give 100 million stimulus package to artists and actors who are under contract elsewhere why should we forget BOM teachers? It is time for the government to hear the cry of the BOM teacher.

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