The Boni community living in Lamu’s terror prone Basuba Ward has given the national government a seven-day ultimatum to re-open all the five primary schools that have remained closed for over five years due to insecurity.
Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe Primary Schools, all which are within the Boni Forest, have remained shut since 2014 following increased Al-Shabaab attacks and raids that saw some of the classrooms torched and vandalised by the militants.
Teachers also fled since then and have never returned and efforts to lure them back even with promises of handsome pay and numerous allowances have not born fruit over the years.
Addressing journalists at Mokowe on Monday, the Boni elders led by Basuba MCA Barissa Deko expressed their disappointment over the government’s continued silence over the education situation in the area which they said is bad for their children’s future.
Due to the situation, the county government of Lamu has moved in to transfer some of the learners in the area to a safer learning centre at the Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School in Lamu West.
But the community says there is need for urgent intervention to ensure the schools are re-opened failure to which they will hold mass demonstrations and also pull out every single Boni child out of school.
They have also vowed not to release their children into the safe learning centres established by the county government kilometres away in Lamu West.
Mr Deko said the move by the county government to transfer Boni children from their villages to other areas has not helped much since not all Boni pupils have been able to join the schools far from home.
The MCA insisted that many students have also not been able to attend school, particularly at the Mokowe Arid Zone centre for several years now since it is already overpopulated and rarely receives any new admissions.
The school’s administration has on many occasions complained of overstretched resources and poor infrastructure which makes it hard for them to admit more Boni learners.
“It’s unfortunate that all schools in Basuba Ward are not in operation. Our pupils are really suffering. We are giving the government just seven days to make things right. Five years is long enough for them to have thought of how best to deal with the education situation but the silence obviously means that they aren’t bothered by our situation. We need our schools re-opened as soon as possible so that our children can also have access to education like other Kenyans out there,” said Mr Deko.
Parents in the region have also expressed concern over their children’s safety as they travel to and from the learning centres.
Since there are no vehicles plying the area, the pupils have to either hike lift on police vehicles or travel by boat on the Indian Ocean.
But the parents feel that both means of travel are dangerous for their children.
Security vehicles have been targets attacks by Al-Shabaab terrorists who plant explosives along the roads.
On June 27, 2017, four pupils from Basuba Ward were among eight people who were killed after a police lorry they were travelling in ran over an explosive device at Ota on the Mararani-Kiunga road.