The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has reiterated that it will defend and protect non-local teachers currently working in Mandera County.
Speaking Monday, Mandera Knut branch Secretary-General Mohamed Kulo said the non-local teachers are facing huge challenges mainly from the local community, vowing to tirelessly defend the non-locals.
“Non-local teachers have braved a lot of odds and hardships and have further put their lives on the line for being in Mandera and we are committed [to] protecting them against challenges caused by the local community,” he said.
He said insecurity has a remained a major threat to non-local teachers in Mandera and appealed for support from locals in protecting the teachers in order to improve education in the region.
“There are so many issues affecting teachers including school principals harassing teachers over petty issues but as Knut we are ready to fight for our members in Mandera,” he said.
He asked school heads to accord special treatment to the teachers and stop the ongoing intimidation that contributed to mass exodus of non-local teachers in 2015.
“We know of transportation challenges these teachers are facing to reach Mandera but principals are keen on interdicting those arriving late without considering this. This must stop,” he said.
Mr Kulo was speaking at Moi Girls Secondary School in Mandera East during a one-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Education for heads of departments in secondary schools.
“We are going round asking locals to accept these teachers and provide accommodation so that our children can learn and be reliable in future but we are yet to receive a satisfying response,” he said.
Mr Kulo warned that schools risk closure due to lack of teachers, saying that currently, 1,300 teachers are needed in both primary and secondary schools in Mandera.
“We have talked to the county government to bring back untrained teachers in class [who were withdrawn] in October last year but that is yet to be done,” he said.
Most non-local teachers who spoke at the workshop complained of continued segregation and harassment by the local community.
They said none of them is considered for promotion despite having taught for many years.
“The highest position a non-local teacher can hold in Mandera is being a head of department [yet] someone can be picked from the village here to be made a school head,” one teacher claimed.
Knut has proposed the formation of a caucus of non-local teachers which should always be engaged whenever there are promotions to be done by the Teachers Service Commission.