At least 300 Kenyan teachers came to protest against returning to Mandera, Garissa, and Wajir counties in North Eastern Kenya. On Tuesday, they converged at Nairobi’s Teachers Service Commission (TSC) headquarters. The teachers expressed dissatisfaction with working conditions, citing constant fear of death.
Nairobi, KENYA. By Yahya:
Nathaniel Kiplagat, a representative of the affected teachers, conveyed their concerns. “We have undergone a lot of intimidation. Some of us are so traumatised as we speak. We are not able to deliver our mandate as teachers under such conditions. We can’t go back to Mandera,” he said.
The teachers from Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa counties took it to the streets following months of unrest in those regions over security challenges. They expressed their frustrations and fears regarding the deteriorating security situation, especially with regard to al-Shabaab. Many voiced their refusal to be escorted by military vehicles, citing the need for safer working conditions. Others chanted, “Transfer! Transfer! Transfer! We don’t want Mandera.”
Their plea is a response to the dangerous conditions they have faced while working as non-locals in Kenya’s North Eastern Province. They had warned of taking to the streets if the officials did not address their concerns. Jafan Kitui, a teacher at Al Huda Primary School in Mandera East, highlighted the toll these security concerns have taken on their lives. He emphasised the urgent need for President Ruto and Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki to prioritise security in Mandera County.
“We fear death”
In an interview with TUKO, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Deputy Secretary General Hesbon Otieno emphasised that the government must urgently tackle the security challenges. He pointed out that flying teachers to their workplaces was not a sustainable solution.
These grievances stem from the TSC’s delocalisation policy, which aimed to distribute educators across the country to address staffing imbalances. However, it faced criticism for not considering the challenges faced by teachers in remote and sometimes volatile areas. “The only thing that we fear right now is death. You can only kill us here. We’re going to stay here. And we’re demanding transfers [to other locations in Kenya],” Kiplagat asserted.
In January 2023, over 14,000 teachers were transferred to various regions as part of the TSC’s efforts to implement regional and inter-regional transfers, authorised by TSC’s head, Nancy Macharia. These transfers aimed to balance staffing levels and optimise educational resources across the country.
Cattle rustling and terrorism
Northern and Northeastern Kenya has been grappling with security concerns, including cattle rustling and terrorist attacks, which have raised safety and well-being concerns for teachers in the region.
In response to the teachers’ demands, TSC has acknowledged the security concerns and pledged to work towards addressing them. However, the teachers remain resolute in their call for transfers to safer regions.