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Govt orders reopening of Boni schools closed over terrorism

Thursday June 27 2019

Mangai Boarding Primary School

A locked door is pictured at Mangai Boarding Primary School in Basuba Ward, Lamu County, following its closure in 2015 over attacks by terror group Al-Shabaab. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WINNIE ATIENO
By WINNIE ATIENO
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The government has ordered the immediate reopening of five schools in Boni, Lamu County, following the enhancement of security.

Basuba, Milimani, Mararani, Mangai and Kiangwe schools have remained closed since 2014 following attacks by terror group Al-Shabaab.

After a security meeting in Lamu on Thursday, Coast Regional Coordinator John Elung’ata noted the existence of a crisis in the education sector following closure of the public schools.

Teachers who were in the region fled for fear of more terror attacks and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) insisted that hey would only work there if their security was guaranteed.

Mr Elung’ata, who is Coast region’s security committee chairman, assured teachers that the area was safe.

He said he held talks with officials of the Kenya Defence Forces at Manda Base and was promised that residents would enjoy tranquility and health, and be able to engage in normal activities such as agriculture.

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TEACHER SHORTAGE

The regional coordinator asked Lamu's director of the Teachers Service Commission to oversee reopening of the schools.

“No section of Lamu can stall due to lack of learning. Life cannot be stopped. For three years our children have not been learning," he noted.

Mr Elung'ata noted that there were enough security camps and agents, learners and schools but that the area lacked teachers.

He urged the Education ministry to plan to send teachers to the area and arrange their security.

“The government had dispatched KDF, police and many other security agents in Lamu so we are waiting to see the benefits. We want teachers to resume teaching ... education will spur growth,” he said.

He added, “Teachers are civil servants. Why can’t they work in Boni like our security agents who are stationed there? Teachers can’t [act] special. After all, they are paid by the government like the rest of us."

FULL TRANSITION

During the 44th annual meeting of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) in Mombasa, teachers decried insecurity in North Eastern and some parts of the Coast including Lamu.

They urged the government to improve security areas prone to terror attacks.

Mr Julius Melly, chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, asked the government to and private sector stakeholders to collaborate in addressing the shortage of teachers, especially in insecure parts of the country.

This, he noted, will ensure success of the 100 percent primary to secondary school transition policy.

SPECIAL ATTENTION

Director for Secondary Education Paul Kibet noted that the deployment of teachers is affected by several factors including the locations of schools.

Mr Kibet also explained that some areas, such as the arid and semi-arid, require special attention.

The secondary school teachers called for special consideration in recruitment for these areas.

OTHER ISSUES

Knut's national vice-chairman Collins Oyuu urged the TSC to address the teacher shortage as well as inadequate infrastructure and insecurity.

The unionist said infrastructural challenges, especially in rural schools, have seen learners study under trees.

“We have pupils sitting on stones and we have a shortage of about 100,000 teachers," he said, and raised concerns about the fate of teachers in areas prone to insecurity.

Mr Uyuu said the delocalisation of teachers had resulted in "sickness and stress".

While opening the conference, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha assured parents the government would improve the infrastructure in schools.