Teachers demand transfer after killing of colleagues in Wajir

Tuesday February 20 2018

OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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Teachers fleeing Wajir County over fear of attacks by Al-Shabaab started arriving in Nairobi Monday morning with the demand to be transferred to safer regions.

Some of the teachers whose first stop was at the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) offices said they were not ready to die because of jobs.

This comes following the killing of two non-local teachers by the terrorists last Friday.

The teachers also lamented that some of their colleagues were being blocked from leaving the county by being denied transport to Nairobi.

They narrated harrowing experiences at the hands of students, head teachers, parents and county education officers, who reportedly derogatorily refer to them as nguraro (hard hair) or kafir (unholy).

They also claimed that Al-Shabaab could be a scapegoat for attacks on them, noting that locals on several occasions accuse them of taking up their jobs. 

They explained how non-local teachers were being transferred to far-flung areas in the county, with school administrators being hostile to them whenever they reject such transfers.

“These could be Al-Shabaab attacks but they are being organised by local communities. Whenever there are reports on an attack, they can never share the information with you,” said one teacher.

Another teacher explained how he was transferred recently to a school that is 69 kilometres away, and ordered to report immediately.

“TSC county directors are always hostile and will never listen to you. I wonder if this delocalisation of management of schools is only for teachers or also TSC officials, said another teacher.

The teachers also decried arbitrary increase in rent for outsiders, saying even traders increase prices of items based on where a buyer comes from.

Mr Keren Mutuyu, a teacher, said they feel insecure in the region, and they will not be willing to go back. “We are here at Knut to seek the help of the union so that we are transferred to areas where we will be safe,” said Mr Mutuyu.

Knut deputy Secretary General Hesbone Otieno, who received the teachers, regretted the incident and asked the government to protect them.

He said teachers who fear for their lives should be transferred without conditions, saying the work they do is not worth their lives. He added that discrimination of teachers based on religion should not be allowed any more.

Statistics indicate that more than half of the teachers in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa are non-locals.