Early childhood development education in Boni, Lamu County has suffered a blow following the closure of nursery schools in the region.
A spot check by the Nation has revealed that three ECDE centres which are the only ones in Basuba Ward in Lamu East, all of which are within Boni Forest have been closed.
The centres include Basuba, Mangai and Kiangwe.
Teachers who were in the region fled for fear of insecurity following increased Al-Shabaab attacks.
The Boni people had put all their hopes on the ECDE centres.
CHILDREN AT HOME
Residents interviewed by the Nation on Sunday said since the schools opened almost four weeks ago, no ECDE centre has been in operation in the region.
They said many of their children have been forced to remain at home without attending school.
Mr Abdalla Salale wondered why the county government of Lamu closed the centres and left locals suffering.
“The ECDE teachers who have been working in this region say that the county refused to renew their work contracts. We are wondering why the county government is finding it hard to employ the ECDE teachers to serve in our villages. ECDE centres were the only hope for our children’s education here in Boni land. We want them to be reopened as soon as possible,” said Mr Salale.
Mr Dokota Wakati, a resident of Mararani, reiterated that for the past five years, there has been no learning in Basuba.
The ECDE centres were opened in early 2018 after the county government employed three teachers.
APPEAL TO GOVERNMENT
Mr Wakati called on the county and national governments to ensure that both ECDE centres and primary schools are reopened for learning.
He said residents have often been assured that security has been restored in the area.
“We are told security has been restored. If so, why don’t they reopen our schools so that our children can also learn? If it’s hard, then let them reconsider setting up a boarding learning centre in Kiangwe area to cater for the over 400 Boni children from all the five affected villages,” said Mr Wakati.
Mrs Amina Alale said their only satisfaction will be to see their children go to school like the rest in other parts of the country.
Mrs Khadija Gurba of Mangai village said the community is faced with a myriad of challenges top among them being poverty and hunger and that the introduction of a feeding programme once the five schools are reopened will help attract and keep children in school.
Contacted, Lamu County Chief Officer for Education Shee Sagara confirmed that no single ECD centre is in operation in Basuba.
Mr Sagara said the three ECD teachers who had earlier been employed by the county government of Lamu are no longer working after their contracts ended.
But he said the county has transferred more than 280 pupils including those in ECDE centres from Basuba to safer areas including Mokowe and Kiunga where they are studying.
“It’s true. No ECDE centre is in session in Basuba. We had employed three ECDE teachers to operate those centres on a temporary basis. The teachers were unqualified and that’s why we couldn’t renew their contracts. The county, however, sponsored them for further studies. Once they graduate, we will absorb them and post them to their region in Basuba. We have tried to advertise for ECDE teaching jobs but almost everyone is unwilling to work there,” said Mr Sagara.