Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow protests TSC move to transfer teachers from northern Kenya

By: OUMA WANZALA

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow has protested the decision by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to transfer more than 800 teachers from north eastern Kenya due to insecurity.

Mr Kerrow said the decision was a serious indictment of the government’s failure to address the marginalisation and official neglect of the region.

He observed that teachers and other public servants cannot refuse to work in any part of the country in disregard of the official government policy.

“Insecurity cannot be the overriding reason for these teachers leaving the region when in all private schools in the region teachers from upcountry have not left,” said Mr Kerrow in a statement.

The teachers have since reported to their new stations after a protracted court battle with their employer.

However, the fate of 200 remaining teachers is still under review.

More than 1,089 teachers had boycotted work after terrorists killed more than 20 teachers in November 2014.

(READ: 886 teachers moved from north eastern)

HARASSMENT FROM LOCALS

The teachers, who are not natives of north eastern region, had also complained of harassment by locals.

They camped at TSC headquarters in Nairobi for a month but instead the commission suspended them. However, they moved to court.

On Sunday, Mr Kerrow said that the government cannot claim to have restored security in the region while at the same time it sanctions the departure of thousands of teachers from the region.

“The duplicity and official indifference to the plight of the pupils and residents of the region is obvious.

“When leaders requested a change of official policy to allow recruitment of untrained teachers in the region to fill the massive gap, it was declined,” lamented the senator.

Mr Kerrow went on: “Further, a request to allow the lowering of the grades for admission to teachers training colleges so that the school leavers from the area can be trained as teachers, was declined on grounds of policy.”

(READ: No going back north, teachers vow)

ALLOW SCHOOLS TO RECRUIT

The senator added that the government has also declined a request by local leaders to allow school boards and counties to recruit teachers.

“Neither is the government willing to pay stipends to those who have volunteered to teach in these schools; the county governments are footing the bills.

“In short, the only policy the government approves is the departure of teachers, and that children just remain in the school compounds to play, without learning,” lamented Mr Kerrow.

He warned that failure by the government to address the education crisis affecting hundreds of students in the region is bound to create resentment and provide extremist groups an opportunity to fill that vacuum.

“It is incumbent on the government to immediately engage the leadership of the region and find an urgent solution to the crisis.

“We cannot afford to surrender the rights and freedoms of the people of that region because of the government’s failure to ensure security,” said Mr Kerrow.

However, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) welcomed the move saying that teachers also have a right to life.

Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said the union will continue to fight for a further 1,000 teachers who have also requested for transfers.