Teachers flee Kerio Valley ahead of national exams

Bandit attack

Area residents peer into the school bus that was shot at by bandits while carrying students of Mogil Secondary School in Marakwet East, Elgeyo Marakwet County on February 18, 2022. National exams in the Kerio Valley region could be jeopardised as teachers flee due to rising insecurity.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Reports indicate that more than 30 teachers in the insecurity prone area have deserted their schools.
  • The teachers, including heads of school, say they fear for their safety due to the incessant attacks.

Non-local teachers in schools bordering Kerio Valley are fleeing the area due to insecurity as activists urge the national government to suspend national examinations in the region. 

Human rights groups want the government to consider administering special examinations to learners in the region when normalcy returns to the region. They say this is the only way to provide a level-playing field for all the candidates.

Reports indicate that more than 30 teachers in the insecurity prone area have deserted their schools, paralysing learning and preparations for the national exams.

The teachers, including heads of school, say they fear for their safety due to the incessant attacks that have resulted in the killing of at least 30 people and displacement of hundreds since the beginning of the year.

Learning in more than 20 primary and secondary schools in the banditry prone areas in Baringo North and Baringo South has been paralysed, with some of them yet to reopen since the beginning of this term.

Recent banditry attacks and livestock theft in the area have sparked fresh fighting between the Marakwet and Pokot communities. The worst hit teachers are those from these two communities and who teach in Elgeyo-Marakwet and Baringo counties. They claim whenever a banditry attack is staged, they are accused of being informers.

The situation has been worsened by the killing of more than eight people on Saturday in a fierce gun fight between herders from Pokot and armed attackers suspected to be from the Marakwet community. Several people sustained gunshot wounds.

Last week, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education (Kuppet) declared that teachers in the North Rift will boycott supervision of the national exams, which start next week, if they are not assured of their safety.

Knut officials said many primary and secondary schools in the Kerio Valley area have been deserted due to frequent banditry attacks.

Knut’s Elgeyo Marakwet executive secretary John Cheberi and Baringo’s Kuppet executive secretary Zecharia Nyomboi said teachers will withdraw their services ahead of the national examinations in solidarity with their colleagues who have lost their lives to the bandits.

They said the flare-ups have affected more than 100 schools in Kerio Valley alone, raising concerns that candidates in the area would miss the examinations if the situation is not tamed.

A head teacher from Tiaty West who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation told the Nation that he had been forced to stay at home for more than a month after attacks in the area escalated. 

“Those border schools are not safe for us anymore, especially when you come from the Pokot or Marakwet communities,” said the teacher. “Whenever one community attacks the other, you pray that they do not come for you for retaliation.” 

“They have threatened me several times, especially when one of their own is killed during the attacks, and I am afraid they could make good their threats. I cannot take chances anymore,” added the distraught school head.

Another head teacher from Kerio Valley who has served in the region for more than a decade, said he has been using the dreaded Kerio bridge at the border of Marakwet East and Tiaty West but he was recently told to leave. He said the criminals told him they were acting on orders “from above”.

“I had differed with some local leaders on some issues concerning the school and so I didn’t take it lightly,” said the head teacher. He reported the matter at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation office in Chemolingot and the Ministry of Education before he was permitted to leave.

He regretted that most attacks are normally staged near institutions and whenever such happens, the non-local teachers are targeted.

Baringo branch Knut secretary Joshua Cheptarus urged the government to provide security.

“We urge the TSC to ensure that those teachers working in the volatile areas are safe and this can only be done by being evacuated from the disturbed areas until normalcy resumes,” he said.