Leaders, mostly from North Eastern region, are mad at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over its decision to transfer all non-local teachers from Garissa County.
Their anger is understandable. Withdrawing the teachers is punishing innocent children who are entitled to the best education — which is impossible without good instructors — just like their counterparts in rest of the country. Denying these learners qualified teachers means they might not perform as well as the rest in national examinations.
Based on that, it is easy to criticise TSC for making the drastic decision. However, when you look at this matter soberly, TSC had few options. In fact, it made the right decision. It did right to stand up for its employees by ensuring that their work environment is secure. That is what is expected of good employers.
Truth is, thanks to Al Shabaab, non-local teachers and people in Garissa and several other counties have been living in a climate of fear.
The terrorists have on several occasions targeted and killed teachers, especially non-Muslims, from other parts of the country. Such killings are usually followed by panicked teachers' pleas to TSC to move them to safer areas.
The teachers' pleas, however, usually fall on deaf ears with their employer insisting they must serve wherever they are and assuring the government would provide the much-needed security.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came after Al Shabaab killed three teachers in Garissa mid last month.
While voicing their protest, North Eastern leaders warned that by pulling out the teachers, TSC is sending a signal that the government is unable to provide security in the region, meaning Al Shabaab is winning.
Although it is common knowledge the government has been doing its best to keep the country safe from Al Shabaab, if you ask the affected teachers, they would rightly point out that security agencies have not done enough to keep them safe. That’s why their colleagues lost their lives to these criminals.
It is not that non-local teachers do not like working in Garissa. All Kenyans are free to work and live in any part of the country. But it is hard, if not impossible, to work in an environment of fear; worried day and night that terrorists might cut your life short.
The ball is squarely in the government’s court. It must intensify efforts to rid Garissa of Al Shabaab. It must give teachers a reason go back to Garissa. Failure to do so will make Al Shabaab believe it has done what it has always yearned to do — to divide Kenyans.
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