The Daily Nation carried a story titled “Kenyan tutors claim recruiters lure them to exploitative labour in Somaliland” that painted a sorry picture of Kenyan workers yet again being subjected to horrendous inhumane working conditions in foreign countries. The school that is accused of these allegations is Elm School, a private international school owned by a Kenyan national.
Elm School (Young Muslim Academy)
Kenyan teachers are in high demand in the region given their quality training. Elm School in Hargesia, Somaliland took notice of this fact and employed a large population of Kenyan teachers. Currently, the school that was founded in 2007 has a total of 79 Kenyan teachers and another 40 assistant teachers from Somaliland. The school that prides itself as a “centre of excellence, a safe and secure environment that encourages students to realise their full potential” is where the Somaliland elite and refugee returnees from Europe and the United States take their children. According to Somaliland.com, the school is accredited by the British Accreditation Service for International Colleges and schools (ASIC) and is cleared to offer international British system of education.
Offering 8.4.4 System of Education
Elm school also offers the Kenyan 8.4.4 education system and will be the first country after Kenya to implement the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).
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Exploitative Working Conditions
Current and ex-Teachers interviewed by a Kenyan daily on condition of anonymity accuse Elm of being an exploitative employer with allegations ranging from sexual harassment, instant deportations, inadequate food, gross underpayment, abuse of labour practices, and lack of freedom of movement and association. As soon as they land in Somaliland, their passports are confiscated.
Poor Working conditions
Kenyan teachers allege that what they are promised by recruiters and what is on the ground is totally different. Where the teachers sleep is equated and has been nicknamed Guantanamo. They are crammed like sardines with no space for privacy. Salaries are slashed without explanation and one faces the sack if they ask about it.
Salary of Elm Teachers
The Kenyan teachers are paid-or supposed to be paid USD500 (KES50,000) per month. The recruiters offer free air ticket, work visa, meals and accommodation, and paid tuition outside of lessons. According to a teacher who called it quits at the institution, kes10,000 is deducted from their salary for accommodation and food which is supposed to be free on paper. She was quoted as saying:
“They claimed food and accommodation is free, but deducted Sh10,000 every month from my salary for the same,” …..“The food is always inadequate and during the weekends we don’t get any at all,” she adds. “We are forced to buy out of our pocket.”
School Response to these damning revelations
Elm Schools Human Resources Director Benson Samia denied the allegations saying that the “school respect our teachers and their happiness, and comfort is our number one priority.”
How True are these allegations?
A teacher interviewed by Somaliland was full of praises for the school:
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“The school caters for our food and accommodation and everything we need. Basically, they are responsible for us. We are happy. If I was not happy, I wouldn’t be here. We are hardworking and the teachers are professionally trained unlike other schools here who just get anyone, where as long as you are Kenyan and can speak English, then you are hired. I believe that is why Elm School is the best,” Linet Kemunto who has a Master’s in Education Management from Mount Kenya University, told the publication.
According to the publication, the teachers save almost all their salary as the school “carters for all their needs”.
Best performing teachers are reportedly rewarded handsomely while others get to invite their spouses in all expense paid visit by the school. Next
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