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Meet Hakizimana, a teacher who started a business of selling onions after schools’ closure

Hakizimana Onesphore during the interview

Accredited Online TEFL

After the government decision to temporarily close schools in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid 19 pandemic, like some other private schools’ teachers, Onesphore Hakizimana lost his monthly salary; today he has started a new business which is possible to co-workers, according to him.

Hakizimana is a teacher at Ecole Saint André Gitarama, a local private school in Muhanga District, Southern Province, since 2009.

He said private school teachers were surprised and upset, asking themselves how they would survive without monthly salary after the suspension of their work contracts just when schools were closed.

“Psychologically, it affected us negatively”, he comments.

Fortunately, the management of the school continued to take care of staff by paying them a half of a monthly salary.

As a teacher of entrepreneurship, Hakizimana woke up with an idea of starting a small business which would be another source of income during this crisis.

That was the one of selling onions, avocados and banana wine he thought they are needed by most people and can be transported easily and stored for a long time without being damaged.

He said: “I started by supplying avocados, onions and banana wine to my clients in Muhanga Secondary City. I took these products from the remote areas to Muhanga market. Onions are from Rubavu and Karongi districts. I opted also to prepare and sell banana wine through outside supplying as bars are closed due to measures to mitigate the spread of covid 19.”

His capital is from regular savings

Onesphore Hakizimana whose wife is also a teacher started teaching in 1997/1998 but he has been at Ecole Saint A                ndré Gitarama for 11 years. They used to save money from their salaries from which he got the capital to start his new business.

“My wife is also a teacher, we realized that we needed a business to support our salaries because with only our monthly wage, it’s hard to get developed. So, Covid19 opened my eyes. I found the capital from our savings”, he said.

He said his minimum income per month is equivalent to Rwf 80,000 and he is in the beginning. Once experienced he will gain more. Whenever he invests Rwf 10,000 in avocados he gets Rwf 5,000 of profit and Rwf 10,000 from every 100 kilos of onions. At least he gets Rwf 15,000 from three cans of banana wine which he supplies after being contacted by clients.

A piece of advice to teachers

According to Hakizimana, it is difficult to get rich when you are a teacher , and rely on salary only.

He urges his colleagues to stand up, starting by small businesses that can generate income to back their monthly earnings.

“Teachers can perform well in whatever they do as they are able to access different books and study the market. They can do agribusiness, technology related projects among others during holidays or free time.”

Private schools may face a serious problem of missing teachers when schools resume activities

Some private school teachers did not get their monthly salary immediately after the closure of schools in March, and their school management didn’t provide any support except “telling them to meet again in September.”

“Recently, Umwalimu Sacco opened a loan scheme to educational institutions to enable them pay teaching staff. However some school managers don’t care, others are fearful to take loans as they are not sure to keep their teachers in the future.  In such schools, teachers may get employed in public institutions where they feel secured. So, I think when the schools will reopen, some private schools will miss teachers.”

Another negative impact of Covid 19 on education sector may be the one of mistrust of banks vis-à-vis private school teachers in terms of getting long term credits there thinking that the same crisis could come again, he concluded.

The covid19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the near-total closures of schools, universities and colleges.

Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions. As of 7 June 2020, approximately 1.725 billion learners are currently affected due to school closures in response to the pandemic.

According to UNICEF, 134 countries are currently implementing nationwide closures and 38 are implementing local closures, impacting about 98.5 percent of the world’s student population. 39 countries’ schools are currently open.

Teachers from private schools are going through unbearable economic crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic since they have not received their salary since March.

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