The marginalised Boni community in terror-prone Basuba has accused teachers of using “non-existent” insecurity to turn down jobs.
The five Boni villages of Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe border Boni Forest where an operation to flush out al Shabaab militants is ongoing.
The five primary schools in the villages have remained closed since 2014 as the terrorists intensified attacks that saw teachers flee. Many were massacred in bus attacks that year.
The fate of about 400 pupils hangs in the balance and Boni elders, led by Basuba chief Yusuf Nuri, have accused teachers of “over-emphasising the state of security in the villages”.
“As much as al Shabaab are a real challenge in the area, teachers need to show some sympathy for pupils who have not set foot in class for the last three years,” he said on Monday.
“It is unfortunate that teachers are now hiding behind insecurity so as not to report back to work yet there is adequate security all over the areas.”
Nuri said the government has taken enough measures to improve security in Basuba and other parts of Lamu but wondered why the education of Basuba children was still uncertain.
The elders said it is time for the government to come up with measures that will see teachers posted to schools the area and the general resumption of studies across the region.
“I still don’t understand why schools here have remained closed while in the rest of Kenya, people are learning. There is excessive security in this area at this particular time,” he said.
“There are too many security officers … even more than the locals … but there are no teachers and no school is open. We live without any fear. Teachers claiming they can’t come for security reasons are liars. They have other reasons. The government should address this. We can’t go on like this.”
Residents also want their youths trained as teachers now that those from other parts of the country have refused to take jobs there.
Other than insecurity, they said teachers are reluctant as the area has a history of being neglected by successive regimes where development is concerned.
“Governments havemarginalised the Bonis for decades. That’s why even teachers feel that working in such a place is like being on their own and that in case of danger, no one will look out for them,” said resident Adnan Barissa of Mangai.
“That is typical marginalisation. We are, however, giving the government the option of training Bonis in teaching, so they can teach in their own schools, if others are afraid to come here. We can’t wait for them forever. Our children need education.”