What you need to know:
- At least four school heads in the county have been attacked this year by students and parents
- Students at Safina Boys Secondary School broke into the principal’s house and frog-marched him to an open area where they assaulted him
- They left him with multiple injuries on the head and broke his finger
- At Kamotin Primary School, headteacher Benjamin Bii was last month beaten up by parents who stormed the institution demanding his transfer
- Governor Simon Kachapin faulted those ganging up against non-local teachers
Non-local teachers in West Pokot county are increasingly being attacked, threatened, and harassed by both learners and parents.
The teachers are now living in fear, after seeing their colleagues being attacked and beaten up by learners from various schools in the county.
Last month, the principal of Safina Boys Secondary School in Sook area, Mr Paul Boiyo Chemabus, was beaten up by students at night when they demonstrated, accusing him of not “assisting” last year’s candidates in exams, a thing they said could be repeated this year.
The boys broke into the principal’s house within a church compound and frog-marched him to an open area where they assaulted and left him with multiple injuries on the head. They broke his finger and left him with bruises all over his body.
Two weeks ago, Karenger Secondary School Principal Simon Mutambo was also attacked by students, while Chepkonisyo Boys Principal John Cheruo was threatened by learners who demonstrated over alleged poor management.
At Kamotin Primary School, headteacher Benjamin Bii was last month beaten up by parents who stormed the institution demanding his transfer, accusing him of bad leadership and misusing power.
Teachers who sought anonymity now suspect the attacks are part of a scheme by parents and local teachers who are inciting learners to attack those who come from outside the county, in a bid to secure the positions for West Pokot natives.
“We feel that our lives are now in danger because what we are seeing and hearing is not good,” Mr Bii said.
West Pokot Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Director Bernard Kimachasi confirmed that cases of non-local teachers being mistreated in the county have been reported.
“It is unfortunate. We don’t want the local community to interfere with institutions or treat teachers as locals or non-locals because they are professionals who offer teaching services only. They come and go. There is no difference whether or not the learners are taught by a white man or Kenyan,” he said.
He attributed the trend to political interference, saying there was a push by those who were delocalised to return home. He revealed that there is an excess of 160 ordinary and 30 headteachers who have been rerouted back home after delocalisation, which could be contributing to the tensions.
“They want headship and promotions and other benefits and think if they can get rid of non-locals, they stand a chance,” he said.
West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin faulted those ganging up against non-local teachers, saying they have a right to work in any place within Kenya.
“I was a teacher for many years, and all have a right to teach anywhere. We need teachers from all over Kenya. The Constitution is clear that people can stay and work anywhere in Kenya. Those looking at the teaching profession with a tribal lens are primitive and backward,” he said.
Mr Kachapin told non-local teachers to stay put and not to worry.
“We need a peaceful coexistence. This is a good county and anyone is free to work and even buy land and settle here,” the governor said.
He took issue with teachers from the county who were sent to other counties (delocalised) in the North Rift region, but who are now protesting and demanding to be transferred to schools in their home county.
“We were ashamed to see our teachers who went to Trans Nzoia protesting on television that they want to come back home. Trans Nzoia here is home. Our people should learn to work in different areas of the county. Our people need exposure,” noted Mr Kachapin.
Mr Kimachasi confirmed that disturbances had been reported in schools headed by teachers from outside the county, but added that there have similar cases in institutions headed by locals. He promised that steps would be taken to help those affected.
“If they feel threatened, the government will take it seriously. Those heading Ptop, Marich Passy, and Cheptulel Boys schools are locals and have been disturbed as well. We need the community to respect teachers. Treat them as teachers and not from that or this community. Our work is to protect our teachers,” said Mr Kimachasi.
“Teachers have no security and we believe the community will appreciate and protect them,” he said.
West Pokot County, Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary Martin Sembelo said no one wants to chase non-local teachers out of West Pokot county.
“Those who want to go back home are free to go, and those locals who want to come back home should do so,” he said.