KIANGWE, KENYA — In Kenya’s northeast Boni Forest, on the border with Somalia, schools that were closed for five years following attacks by militant group al-Shabab have reopened. But many children are still unable to attend classes, as few teachers are willing to work in the area.
Farid Sadik is one of 10 educators who have taken the challenge to teach at a school in Kiagnwe, one of the five that reopened this year after attacks by al-Shabab in 2015 prompted most teachers to flee the area
“We feel there is something that needs to be done for the community because we are trained as teachers, and we are trained to work anywhere in the republic,” said Sadik.
Kiangwe village is the gateway to Boni Forest, from where al-Shabab launched deadly attacks in five years ago that forced area schools to close.
Kiangwe Primary School was among five that shut their doors. Since then, local children have been home-schooled or traveled long distances to receive an education. Some received no education at all.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia told VOA that local officials are doing everything to keep Boni children in school.
"We have greatly improved security. We have also deployed teachers, we have a head teacher, we have a classroom teacher, ECD (early childhood development) teacher in those schools. So, the schools are running normally. We have also provided resources, books and everything,” Macharia said.
But while Kiangwe Primary School resumed classes, authorities say the fear of more attacks means few teachers are willing to return.
Mohamed Abuli is on the school committee.
"There were issues of insecurity in our school. We enhanced security but we don't have enough teachers. There is only one teacher per so many students," Abuli said.
There still are not enough instructors to teach the upper grades, forcing some students to stay at home.
Zeinab Bakari says her teenage son has nowhere to go to advance his education.
“Here we’ve got school only up to 4th grade. I don’t have the fare to send him out. It’s my loss. I am at a loss,” she said.
Bakari and other families can only hope the improved security will attract more teachers so all the children can get back to school after such a long break.