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Kenya transfers dozens of non-local teachers from Garissa over frequent Al-Shabaab raids

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Non-local teachers serving in Garissa County have been transferred elsewhere by the Kenyan government, Teachers Service Commission [TSC] has said.

This follows frequent protests that have literally paralyzed learning in the northeastern region due to Al-Shabaab attacks, TSC said.

Garissa, just like many regions bordering war-torn Somalia, has borne brunt of frequent and we'll coordinate Al-Shabaab attacks.

For instance, the Somalia-based militants raided the region thrice last month, killing at least three pupils at Kamuthe primary, officials said.

Teachers wage protests

Dozens of non-local teachers have for the last one month deserted their stations, calling for immediate transfers from the porous region.

For the better part of Monday, the disgruntled teachers camped outside TSC headquarters, vowing never to return to their stations.

Initially, the government had termed their quest as "inconsequential", adding that they took the oath to serve anywhere across the country.

Similar protests were reported in devolved TSC headquarters in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties, which have been worst hit, local media said.

Those in Garissa transferred

Beatrice Wababu, the TSC head of communication, said the teachers have been moved due to frequent Al-Shabaab attacks.

“We cannot tell the exact number since they have been coming in small groups to collect the letters. We will know tomorrow," Ms. Wababu said.

Those serving in Mandera and Wajir, she said, would have their transfers processed later on, upon thorough verification by the commission.

But the decision on the transfer of teachers in Mandera and Wajir counties will be made on Tuesday, she added.

“They are worried. We have allowed them to stay out of their work stations since they indicated their houses had been earmarked for possible attacks,” the official said.

Pressure from stakeholders

Pressure has been mounting from various stakeholders, who have raised concerns about the safety of the teachers, local media reported.

The Kenya Union of post-Primary Education teachers (Kuppet), which fights for rights of secondary school teachers, welcomed the move.

“We cannot have teachers working in fear. Such teachers cannot deliver,” said Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori.

Similar calls have been made by Kenya National Union of Teachers [KNUT], which has been at loggerheads with TSC over the predicaments of the teachers.

Al-Shabaab menace in northeastern

Al-Shabaab militants have often taken advantage of the porous Kenya-Somalia border to antagonize residents, causing unprecedented deaths in the process.

Besides Kamuthe primary school attack, the militants have also raided security patrol bases in the region, although some have been repulsed.

At Wajir, the militants have often targeted passenger buses, with December attack leaving 11 Kenyans dead in the region.

Over the weekend, residents of Wajir sighted Al-Shabaab militants at Wajir, where they are reportedly pitching tent and recruiting locals.

The militants, reports indicated, might have crossed over from Garissa after the raid at Kamuthe primary where a teacher was killed.

Efforts to eradicate Al-Shabaab

Both local leaders and the government have been pushing for the eradication of the militants, setting various measures in the process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last month announced plans to "impose sanctions against financiers of these crooks causing mayhem in Kenya."

Already, three people transporting contraband goods have been arrested at Dadaab refugee camp over terror-related activities, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang'i said.

Local leaders led by Senator Yusuf Haji last week called for arming of residents to deal with the Al-Shabaab menace, a request that is yet to be granted.

But the government has deployed hundreds of Special Forces from KDF, who have increased surveillance in the region, officials said.

Also expected to be affected are the civil servants especially government doctors, a move that has scared locals leaders due to scarcity of professionals.