Wednesday September 5, 2018
Five primary schools in terror-prone Basuba Ward, Lamu East, have remained closed despite the beginning of the third term a week ago.Parents who were interviewed said they are frustrated as their children are at home while their peers are studying.
Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe schools, all of which are within areas earmarked for the ongoing multi-agency Linda Boni security operation, have not been opened due to the insecurity brought on by al Shabaab terrorists.
The five primary schools in the region were shut in 2015 after teachers fled, saying the militants had threatened them directly.
A spot check by the Nation found that they were still closed but that ECDE centres were in operation.
The Lamu county government has made efforts to transfer at least 260 of the Boni pupils to the safer Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School in Lamu West but another challenge is that of a shortage of teachers.
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 the education of children from the Boni and Sanye minority communities
Mokowe head teacher Omar Ile cited challenges including lack of teachers and infrastructure to accommodate the ever-increasing number of pupils.
“The number of pupils, especially those from the minority Boni community, keeps growing but the teachers are few. We need two to three extra teachers so pupils can learn comfortably,” said Mr Ile.
Parents said it is time to establish a common education centre in Basuba since the five schools have remained shut.
Mr Musa Msuo said the recent IED attacks at Sankuri and Bodhei, which left at least 11 Kenya Defence Forces soldiers dead and tens injured, "completely dashed" hopes of reopening the institutions. He said it is only at education centres that their children will learn uninterrupted.
“We have no hope that our schools will be reopened. With the recent terror attacks on KDF vehicles, matters have become worse. We want our children to carry on with learning like the rest of their counterparts countrywide," Mr Msuo said.
"From the look of things, it’s obvious that the government is unable to contain insecurity for schools to remain operational. Teachers don’t want to work here. We therefore prefer that the government sets up a fully functional and secure education centre so that Boni children can also learn. It’s not fair that while the rest learn, our children continue to suffer."
The parents also proposed the establishment of military and police camps near the centre for adequate security round the clock.
Basuba MCA, Deko Barissa, called on the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to have teachers who fled from Basuba schools posted to Mokowe to end the shortage problem. He said the alternative is to send them to the education centre should it be put up.
In 2015 and 2016, the TSC moved all its 16 teachers from the five schools due to fear of their security following persistent al Shabaab raids.