NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – Seven lawmakers from counties in the northern part of Kenya have told a House Committee that the local communities want teachers who have refused to go back there to stay away altogether.
Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow, Barre Shill of Fafi and Wajir County Woman Representative Fatuma Ali told the Education Committee of the National Assembly that parents, teachers and students in the area are unhappy with the misrepresentation the teachers have portrayed.
“I do not think today, there is any parent in Mandera or Wajir or those areas who would want this particular group of teachers to go back and teach. That is the feeling people have on the ground,” Senator Kerrow said.
The legislators instead want government to employ untrained teachers from among locals.
“The teachers who are seen on the TV might risk their lives. So, madam chair, we will need to protect them… let them not go there,” the Wajir County Woman Representative cautioned.
“How can you welcome someone who tells lies about you, it will be very difficult,” added Shill.
This comes days after representatives of the striking teachers claimed they have been receiving death threats for leading the colleagues to a three week sit-in at the Teacher Service Commission Headquarters to demand for transfers from the work stations or face interdictions.
“These people are telling lies about our region and our people, they have exaggerated. To us ,they are people with sinister motives. North Eastern province is a part of Kenya… it is the onus of the Government of Kenya to ensure there is security, it is not the public, it is not the MPs” charged Shill.
Meanwhile tempers flared in the committee after the NEP leaders accuse the Education Committee of being biased in its handling of the ongoing impasse where over 800 teachers have refused to resume duty due in insecurity.
Senator Kerrow and Shill clashed with Migori MP Jared Opiyo who is a member of the committee after he said the teachers who have served the mandatory five years should be given the transfers.
However Kerrow and Shill interrupted saying that the withdrawal of teachers will leave the region even more marginalised.
“When we come here to give evidence to the committee, we really don’t except the members to openly tell us you are wrong or right, you are supposed to collect our views and do whatever it is you are supposed to do, but when the teachers came here, you were crying, if you are biased don’t call us,” Kerrow who is also the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance stated.
The Senator was referring to media article which showed Bomet women’s representative Cecilia Ng’etich shedding tears when she heard that during inter-clan fighting, women teachers are raped and sexually harassed.
Representatives of the teachers demanding transfer because of insecurity in Mandera, Garissa and Wajir said they are traumatized by hostile and inhuman treatment by their Muslim hosts.
The teachers said the trauma they have undergone since last year when 21 of their colleagues were killed in a bus attack has left them terrified to a point of now seeking transfer from the counties.
The teachers were attacked on November 22 when travelling home for Christmas. Some 28 in the bus were killed.
Teachers Service Commission CEO Gabriel Lengoiboni who also appeared before the Committee on Friday said 1,089 teachers have so far not reported to the workstation in the North Eastern region.
He added that the 637 in primary school and 452 in secondary schools will face disciplinary action for insubordination and desertion because sacking them will involve a complicated procedure.