Abdulahi Nakwawi: Turkana chief who skips lunch break to teach adult learners

Moru Ng’ole Sub Location Chief in Turkana County Abdulahi Nakwawi, helps some of the adult learners during a lunch hour break. [Mike Ekutan, Standard]

His passion for teaching has seen him apply administrative skills to reach out to more adult learners in the vast Turkana County, with a mission of transforming their livelihoods.

Abdulahi Nakwawi, the assistant chief of Moru Ng'ole Sub Location in Turkana West, says he has a dream to ensure that villagers are able to write and read.

His thirst for teaching has also attracted the interest of locals who now turn up for lessons, hence boosting literacy levels in the county.

Nakwawi revealed that most of those who turn up for his lessons do not understand the two national languages - English and Swahili - and for that reason, he has resorted to teaching them the basics of the two languages during his lunchtime lessons.

"Some of the residents who have shown interest in gaining knowledge through my lessons do not know how to express themselves in public offices. They even end up not being served well owing to language barriers,” said the chief.

Moru Ng’ole Sub Location Chief in Turkana County Abdulahi Nakwawi, helps some of the adult learners during a lunch hour break. [Mike Ekutan, Standard]

Nakwawi in most cases skips his lunchtime to concentrate on lessons, which he feels are crucial for his adult learners.

"When I break for lunch at around 1 pm, I must ensure that I resume office by 3 pm to serve other people seeking government services. This is after teaching learners new skills on basic issues that will improve literacy and better standards of living," he said.

Turkana County is among regions with high illiteracy levels and it is the region where adults have seen the necessity of attending adult classes.

The challenge, however, is an acute shortage of tutors that has also made the process inefficient.

The thirst for accessing adult education classes in Turkana has been influenced by numerous reasons including illiteracy.

Most residents are complaining that they are unable to write and read, a factor they said has led them to be blackmailed by their own children.

James Naweet, 42, a resident of Kakuma, Turkana West Sub County, said he has been looking after livestock. But whenever he wants to sell in Kakuma town, he is paid through an M-PESA transaction, which makes it difficult for him to know how much has been paid and has to seek help from his young children.

"I have decided to come for adult classes in order to have some knowledge so that I can know how to operate touch-screen phones," said Naweet.

He adds: "I also need to know everything in my phone including my M-PESA balances and other transactions because we no longer trust our children." 

Epem Losuru 32, a resident of Kakuma, lauded the dedication of his assistant chief towards transforming their livelihoods through adult education.

Moru Ng’ole Sub Location Chief in Turkana County Abdulahi Nakwawi during a lunch hour session with some of the adult learners. [Mike Ekutan, Standard]

"What my chief has done is something strange to me, he is not a teacher but he makes use of his time to give us some knowledge. We want our leadership to support him," Epem said.

Mary Munyete, the only adult education teacher in Turkana West Sub County, is also calling for government intervention to post more adult education teachers.

She said many adult residents are willing to learn since they have toiled for long due to illiteracy.

 Turkana Adult Education director Abdiraman Emeto said the department is facing an acute shortage of teachers, with the entire county having only 13 government-employed teachers.

"About 80 percent of Turkana residents are illiterate, whereas 20 percent are literate and this will majorly affect the development of the County," said Emeto.

He added: "We call upon the national government and Nongovernmental organizations alongside other development partners to intervene and boost levels of literacy in Turkana County.”

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