Four out of the five primary schools in terror prone Basuba Ward in Lamu East failed to open again for the first term of this year.
Five primary schools including Milimani, Basuba, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe – all of which are within Boni Forest where a multi-agency security operation is ongoing – have not been in operation since 2015 due to the insecurity brought on by Al-Shabaab terrorists.
A spot check by the Nation found that only Kiangwe Primary School was open by Friday while the rest of the schools, including early childhood development education (ECDE) centres which have been in operation in the region remained closed.
The Nation also observed that unlike other places where parents and learners were busy preparing themselves for the opening of schools, parents in Basuba Ward went on with their other daily chores as they waited to hear from the government on whether their schools will be opened or not.
Parents and local administrators who were interviewed by the Nation said they have high expectations that the schools will be opened this time round since security in the region has improved.
Basuba Location Senior Chief Yusuf Nuri told the Nation on Friday that the ongoing crackdown for criminals in Boni Forest has helped in bringing peace and stability in the entire Basuba Ward.
“We are happy that our region is now enjoying peace. We were really confident that all the five primary schools in Boni Forest would be opened this year so that our children here can learn. Only Kiangwe Primary School was opened by today. We hope the rest of the schools will be opened too so that Boni children can learn like their counterparts in other parts of the country,” said Mr Nuri.
Mr Godana Noya called on the government through the Teachers Service Commission to ensure enough teachers are posted to Basuba Ward so that all the five schools are fully operational.
In 2015, all the teachers who were serving in the region fled after claiming that the terrorists were directly threatening them.
Mr Noya said despite the efforts by the Lamu County government to transfer a section of the Boni pupils to the safer Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School in Lamu West, many of the children are still at home.
The Mokowe school, which has both day and boarding sections, was established in 1992 by the World Bank, mainly as a place of refuge and for the education of children from the Boni and Sanye minority communities.
“It’s frustrating that almost all the primary schools here are closed. Our children are suffering. Only 200 to 250 children from this region were able to be evacuated to Mokowe Arid Zone School. The rest are staying at home. We need all the schools to be opened this year so that our children can study like their peers in other areas,” said Mr Noya.
Mrs Halima Abdi said the government should establish a common education centre in Basuba so that their children can get a place to learn.
“We are hearing that Kiangwe Primary School is open. Why doesn’t the government facilitate the institution with enough teachers and other education materials and make it fully boarding so that our children from the rest of the villages in Boni Forest can be sent there and access education? We thank the government for the effort in ensuring security is maintained in our villages. We are, however, still frustrated by the fact that many of our children have no place to learn,” said Mrs Abdi.