Garissa residents, activists protest over poor standards of education

Residents of Garissa protest against an education crisis in the county. They presented a memorandum to Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh listing their grievances on August 20, 2015. PHOTO | ABDIMALIK HAJIR |

What you need to know:

  • Regional coordinator promises to deliver memorandum to President Kenyatta.
  • Demonstrators voice concern over the lack of teachers owing to rising terrorist attacks.

Hundreds of Garissa residents and civil society activists on Thursday took to the street to protest over an education crisis in the county.

Simultaneous protests were held in Mandera and Wajir counties. The demonstrators asked the government to address the poor education standards in the northeastern region in the wake of rising terrorist attacks.

Parents, students and human rights activists assembled at Garissa Primary School in the morning for the demonstration. They said that despite the deteriorating situation in the last eight months, there is no solution in sight.

Waving placards, the demonstrators marched to the regional commissioner’s office at the county headquarters as they chanted haki yetu (our rights).

“Security is the government’s responsibility. Stop the profiling and victimisation,” read a placard. “Stop marginalisation, northeastern is part of Kenya,” another placard read.

REFUSED TO RETURN

Speaking while handing over a memorandum on behalf of the protestors to Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh, Pastoral Girl Initiative Chief Executive Officer Fatuma Kinsi said children in the region have a right to education.

She said stakeholders are concerned that even though a majority of non-local teachers in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera refused to return to work because of insecurity, the government has not declared this a crisis.

The protestors said successive governments have marginalised the region and only one in three children access basic education.

“Our leaders have raised this issue with the Teachers Service Commission and the Minister of Education. No satisfactory action has been taken to ensure that our children are not denied their right to an education and a future. We are concerned that the government recently transferred teachers from the region,” she said.

Ms Kinsi said children in the area are entitled to free and compulsory basic education as enshrined in the Constitution.

The protestors want the Kenya National Examination Council to take into account the plight of the candidates in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. They urged the Interior ministry to provide security and called for the reopening of all institutions of higher learning.

Womankind Kenya coordinator Abdullahi Mohamed said in Wajir County, 499 teachers for both secondary and primary teachers are not on duty, in Garissa 873 are yet to resume work and in Mandera, 805 are not at their work stations.

He urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to issue an Executive order to allow the hiring of untrained teachers to fill vacancies.

“We want the cut off points for teachers from the region to be lowered to a C- grade for the P1s and a C for secondary teachers to enable recruitment and in-service training of local tutors until the crisis is resolved” he said.

The activists want the government to increase the quota for teachers’ training in the northeastern, to set up primary teachers training centres in the counties and to allocate grants for in-service training.

Mr Saleh promised to deliver the grievances to President Uhuru. He said the government is doing everything possible to protect Kenyans.

He said as much as the government is trying to provide security, the local communities need to give information to help smoke out terrorists.

“Terrorism is a global problem. We are doing everything to make sure teachers are safe. Local solutions for the education crises must also be found,” said Mr Saleh.

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