, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on Sunday directed its members stationed in northern Kenya not to go back in any professional capacity.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion also directed those still in the north despite schools being closed – and not native to area – “to leave with immediate effect.”
He said they should then report to their “home branches.”
The security situation in the north, Sossion said, was no longer tenable as was evidenced by the slaying of 28 people in Mandera on Saturday, a majority of whom were teachers.
When questioned about what that would mean for pupils in northern Kenya he said, “that is not our problem.”
Despite probing, he did not explain what it would take for the union to reconsider the decision either.
In response, Deputy President William Ruto said that although the decision was understandable, it was ill-advised.
“It is not the right statement to make because then we make those who committed this crime look like they have succeeded and yet we have already dealt decisively and conclusively with those who committed this crime,” he sought to assure.
A statement that did little to persuade Augastino Musicha, a public school teacher in Mandera, that it would be safe to return.
“We hear the same things day in and day out and little changes yet we have Al Shabaab attacks in the north almost every other day. I don’t think I’ll go back. If I hadn’t come down (to Nairobi) last week I might have been on that bus,” he said.
“I don’t think I can agree for another of my children to go up north,” James Kilonzi who lost a daughter, a teacher, in Saturday’s attack said.
On Saturday, both the Governors of Garissa and Wajir – Nathif Jama and Ahmed Abdullahi respectively – recognised that the attack would make it difficult to convince Kenyans not native to the region to accept postings there.
“It is unfortunate that the targets of this attack were teachers and healthcare workers who left their homes to contribute to the uplifting of our region,” Abdullahi regretted.