While international companies enjoy tax holidays in Kenya, there are no government funds to pay teachers like Jane. Even though she works at a public school that is supposed to pay all teachers and provide free primary education to school children, she is volunteering full-time.

"It’s a disgrace, that there is a huge need for teachers like myself, but no public funds to pay us. Eventually God will pay me back what the Government refuses to give us,” 28 year old Jane Irungu explains.

She works as a full time volunteer teacher at the Public School, Raila Educational Center, in Kibera. She is one of four teachers volunteering to ease the burden of the seven teachers paid by the Government.

Even with us volunteers, we have over 60 students in the classrooms. The Government promises that schools are free, but they rely on free labour to keep the schools running

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€45 per month

Parents and well-wishers ensure that Jane is paid 5,000 shillings (EUR 45) per month for her work, which is less than a third of the pay of a Government employed teacher. She feels that the Government leaves the poor behind when they pledge free primary education.

"In some classes we have 80 students and 25 books that are outdated. That is not a decent foundation for learning. The problem is that the Government does not have funding to secure good conditions on public schools. I feel that schools like this are even worse than others, it’s like they have given up on us because we are located in a shanty town," she says.

The school has 650 students. It is located in East Africa’s biggest informal settlement, Kibera in Nairobi. Like many other public schools in Kenya, it lacks basic amenities and electricity. In terms of funding, the support the school receives from the Government is less than half of what is needed, according to the head master, 

The school has eight toilets, but they are not all working. Therefore, we are more than a 100 people for each toilet. That means that everybody has to share and queue: girls with their first period, small kids, workers, men and teachers. There are no room for privacy and airs.

No room for luxury

Jane Irungu is a single mother who is struggling to make ends meet even though she only serves simple meals based on maize flour. She always buys second hand clothes and most of the time, she has no electricity in her house.    

"I live with my daughter and a house help in a small shed, not far from here. We don’t have a washroom or even running water; we eat basic meals like porridge and Ugali (maize flour cooked with water to a dough-like consistency)." 

When Jane or her daughter gets sick or if she needs money for another emergency, her sister steps in.

"She has a better paid job so she supports me when I have extra expenses," Jane concludes.

Tax Justice for all

ActionAid believes tax can change people’s lives when spent on public services. Tax power is what governments must use to help people realise their human rights. Tax power is what you can use to demand companies pay the tax they should be paying.

ActionAid is also focusing on Tax Incentives which continue to undermine revenue and do little to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).Tax incentives may be at the expense of domestic investment especially the discretionary tax incentives.

Find out more about the Tax Power campaign