Tens of teachers serving in parts of the North Eastern region on Tuesday camped outside the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) headquarters in Nairobi demanding transfers over insecurity.
The teachers drawn from Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa counties said they would not return to their duty stations until their employer moved them from the region.
“All we want is transfer and only transfer. We cannot be under army escort all the time like we are some sort of narcotic drugs. And even when we are escorted, the armed forces are behind our buses so we are exposed to danger. We are now saying No to Mandera,” one of them said.
According to the teachers, TSC officials supposed to be facilitating their transfers have ignored their pleas.
“We had been told to write to the commission for a response before school reopening, which we did but we have not heard from them,” another teacher said.
They said they arrived at the TSC headquarters early Monday morning and were allowed in by officials.
But the teachers said all they were given were “repeated lies from the bosses, telling us to go back to our duty stations.”
Upon return to the commission headquarters in Upper Hill area on Tuesday morning, the tutors said they were denied entry into the offices, making them pitch camp in the compound.
“We don’t want to be traveling in armored vehicles and under escort. We can’t continue like this way.”
Primary and secondary schools reopened for this year’s third term on Monday.
The teachers’ protests come just weeks after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki urged TSC to consider posting non-local teachers in the insecurity-stricken Northern counties for shorter durations and then reshuffling them.
The CS told a parliamentary education committee on August 2 that insecurity is affecting the mental health of the non-local teachers. He told the committee that the locals contribute to issues of insecurity among the non-local teachers through incitement.
“There is a bit of incitement from the local communities against non-local teachers so some of the threats are coming from the local communities themselves and we must therefore look towards engaging the local communities to accept the reality that they don’t have enough teachers.”
He recommended that the teachers be pooled in one area temporarily to protect them from attacks by the al-Shabaab militia group.
According to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Mandera County alone currently needs more than 2,000 teachers to fill the gap in 300 public primary schools and another 550 public secondary schools.
The region lost 28 teachers in 2014 after a bus they were travelling in while heading to Nairobi for the December holidays was attacked.
In January 2020, the region faced another teacher crisis after TSC transferred tutors from other parts of the country, citing insecurity after three of them were killed by al-Shabaab during a night raid.
Tens of people have been killed in attacks by the terrorists operating in the area. Most of the victims are non locals.