Boni children face challenges in new safe school

Lamu residents flee villages for Linda Boni bombing to root out al Shabaab. Children from the Boni community have been facing challenges in new schools deemed to be safe PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu,KENYA:It’s a never ending cycle of challenges for school children from the Boni minority community in Lamu who were transferred from their terror prone schools in Basuba to the Mokowe Arid zone school safe zone as they now face a shortage of teachers.

At least 260 primary school pupils were transferred to the safe zone so as to proceed with learning after all the five schools in their villages of Mararani,Mangai,Milimani,Basuba and Kiunga were closed down and teachers fled due to the Al shabaab menace four years ago.

The pupils are those from classes four to eight.

The schools in Basuba have never re-opened to date.

However,at the new boarding school which is also considered a safe zone,this children now rarely have enough teachers to attend to them as the school grapples with an ever increasing number of pupils.

The pupils have not been learning as they should due to the shortage of teachers at the school and also the necessary infrastructure.

Speaking at the school on Thursday,the Mokowe Arid Zone school head teacher Omar Athman said the school is also facing serious shortage of food,water and other crucial amenities required in the running of a boarding school.

He said the school now owes various suppliers to the tune of millions of shillings most of whom have so far refused to continue supplying the school with the various products and services.

The school head says the teacher shortage has forced them to overcrowd classrooms so that a single teacher can attend to hundreds of pupils all at once.

“On many occasions we have to mix pupils from different classes in one room because only one teacher is available then.Even then,most of the teachers here aren’t employed by TSC but rather by the PTA.We need more teachers if this program is to succeed.At least three more,”said Omar.

The school head also appealed to the county and national governments to consider initiating a school feeding programme since many of the pupils brought to the school are poor and cant afford the required fee for meals at the boarding facility.

“Right now the school has so many debts for suppliers.We are over burdened as a school and we genuinely need help.The Boni children especially can’t afford to pay much but I believe the government can come in and assist,”he said.

Basuba ward MCA Deko Barissa has asked the TSC to have all those teachers who fled insecurity in Basuba schools posted to the Mokowe Arid Zone school in order to solve the shortage problem.

In 2015 all the five Basuba primary schools of Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe were shut down followed increased Al shabaab attacks in the areas.

The situation made the over 400 pupils of Basuba ward stay home for several months before they were finally moved to the safe zone to continue with learning.