Tutors in Garissa throng TSC office seeking transfers
Irene Githinji and KNA
Hundreds of non-local teachers in Fafi, Holugho, Ijara and Dadaab in Garissa county are flocking to Teachers Service Commission (TSC) offices seeking urgent transfers from the region.
The latest push to leave the area follows the killing of three teachers by suspected al Shabaab terrorists on Monday in Kamethu, Garissa.
The victims were identified as Caleb Mutua, 28, Titus Mushindi, 29, and Samwel Mutua, 29.
After the attack, Garissa Education Board immediately withdrew non-local teachers from the four sub-counties and ordered them to report to TSC offices for further instructions.
Responding to rising cases of attacks targeting non-locals, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) yesterday called for the deployment of trained teachers currently enlisted in disciplined forces to schools in the region.
Kuppet secretary general Akelo Misori also urged TSC to rotate teachers from the region every two years as opposed to the regulation requiring newly employed to work in their first stations for at least five years.
The rotation policy, said the union, should be modified in respect to Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River and Lamu to reduce their being easy targets.
“Judging from the number of cases reported and information from our members on the ground, the terrorists have become increasingly emboldened in recent months.
Teachers, being unarmed, are soft targets for terrorists as demonstrated in Kamuthe. Our members who survived the attacks have recounted traumatic experiences hiding from terrorists for nights on end,” said Misori.
The union boss also asked the TSC to review staffing levels of schools in the five counties and ensure more local teachers are deployed there where non-locals are at a greater risk.
In a letter to Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and copied to his Education counterpart Prof George Magoha, Misori expressed concern over the rising security concerns for teachers in North Eastern and Coast regions.
Kuppet has also called for deployment of at least two police officers in each public school in the region to provide full time security for teachers and deployment of enough military personnel to settlements with non-local teachers.
Patrick Kipruto, a teacher at Bura Secondary in Fafi, urged TSC to grant them compassionate leave and subsequently transfer them owing to unsafe conditions they have been operating in.
He was among teachers who had camped at the TSC offices yesterday to seek transfer.
“We are victims and survivors of the terror attacks. Over the years, we have been having sleepless nights…we sometimes get security alerts and instead of beefing up security, we are told to relax.
Dealing with such regions is very difficult and innocent teachers are dying in their youth,” said Kipruto, who is now on his fourth year in the region.
Meanwhile, Magoha condemned attacks targeting teachers in the region, saying the government will beef up security in the affected areas.
“I do not believe that terrorists can come from nowhere and the local community must now be interrogated.
We have to stop living in fear. Security will be beefed up in that area but I would want to see more than just that security because the local people around the schools must now tell us why they did not work to protect the teachers,” the CS said Tuesday.
Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion has threatened to mobilise tutors to vacate insecure schools and regions because of terror attacks targeting them.
He regretted that though teachers have been promised protection from attacks, killings have continued.
“As a union, we will have no choice but to urge teachers who feel insecure to promptly vacate these areas without further delays to save their lives.
Sanctity and right to life is paramount and a constitutional right,” Sossion said.
A week ago, militants shot and killed four Saretho boarding primary pupils and destroyed Safaricom masts.
Garissa Director of Education, Issack Khalif said the decision by the county education board to withdraw non-local teachers was in consultation with TSC headquarters.
He said it was agreed that withdrawn teachers be redeployed to the three sub-counties of Garissa, Lagdera and Balambala “that are safe”.
Khalif said affected teachers were employed by TSC and signed a contract to work in Garissa between three to five years and cannot be transferred outside the county as they are demanding.
The official also said learning has not stopped in all schools in Fafi, Ijara, Hulugho and Dadaab except for Saretho and Kamuthe that were closed due to the terror attack.
He said respective school boards and Parents Associations (PAs) have been instructed to recruit locals to fill in the positions left by the withdrawn teachers and ensure that learning continues uninterrupted.