Pupils idle in school as teachers abscond citing insecurity

Learning has almost been paralysed in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties as teachers have refused to report back to work because of insecurity.

Three weeks after schools opened for first term, Mandera County acting Director of Education Ismail Barrow, confirmed that “a good number of teachers from ‘Down Country’ (other counties)had not reported back to their respective schools”.

Barrow said the county is hopeful that an amicable solution will be reached for teachers to resume duty.
“The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has given teachers until next Monday to be back in schools. It is our belief that those angling for transfers will abide by the rule,” he said.

Barrow said they will investigate claims of harassment towards the teachers.

“There are cases of indiscipline among students, but it is not only confined to teachers from ‘Down Country’. Even the Somali teachers experience the same and it cannot be the reason why the teachers want transfers,” he said.

Barrow said they will mobilise the community and sensitise them to respect teachers irrespective of their faith. Civil servants including teachers from other parts of the country, feel that their bosses have something against them.

The teachers sight insecurity as the reason they are camping at the TSC headquarters in Nairobi seeking to transfers out of the region. One teacher aptly said signing for a job posting here is like signing one’s death sentence.

And it is emerging that it is not only security threats that is a concern to teachers. The harsh weather conditions is also a headache. The blistering temperatures in these counties especially the first quarter of the year range between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius, according to meteorological departments. Non-locals from ‘cooler’ counties, find it difficult to adjust to the ‘furnace’ as they call it here.

Nevertheless, there are those teachers and other civil servants who want out of the region regardless. One such teacher who sought anonymity, says getting employment in the region was a stepping stone for him to work in the Government. He says he was buying time to seek transfer and the cases of insecurity provided an opportunity to be in his home county or near.

“There is a requirement in the civil service where one cannot seek transfer without serving in an area for three years. But despite working for more than three years, it is difficult to secure a transfer even with hefty bribes,” he said.

He added that some teachers want transfers to other counties to pursue further education since there are no higher learning institutions in Mandera. The teacher adds that there is pressure from relatives to move out of the region.

Meanwhile, North Eastern leaders have lashed out at the teachers’ trade unions, which they accused of inciting its members to shun the region following incidences of insecurity.

Legislators led by Senators Billow Kerrow (Mandera) Abdulraham Ali (Wajir) and MPs Adulaziz Farah (Mandera East) Abbas Mohammed (Wajir East) who spoke on behalf of their colleagues, expressed concern that the teachers’ continued defiance is affecting learning in the region.

They have now called on the Government and the TSC to reign on the matter and ensure the teachers report back to work by Monday.

“It is unfortunate that Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general Wilson Sossion and his Kenya Union of Post Primary Education of Teachers (Kuppet) counterpart Akello Misori, have advised their members against reporting back to work,” said Kerrow.

He accused Sossion of not being sensitive to the plight of the pupils.

“We are setting a dangerous precedence. The unions should desist from inciting teachers and refrain from issuing offensive statements. TSC has even offered to airlift the teachers to the region, let us not allow our children to continue suffering,” said Kerrow.