KENYA: Insecurity & Conflict Affect Education in Northern Region
Photo: Justo Casal
|A high number of school age children are not attending classes|
SAMBURU, (IRIN) : Poverty and frequent conflicts among pastoralist communities in northern Kenya have prevented thousands of children from enrolling in school and made them more likely to commit acts of violence, local leaders and government officials said.
Hassan Noor Hassan, Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, said school age youngsters have been involved in recent clashes between communities in parts of Samburu, Laikipia and Marsabit Districts.
“The high number of school age children not attending classes and [school] dropouts must be addressed to stop this trend and keep them away from the conflicts,” he said. “The Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs must urgently initiate programmes to enrol and take these children back to school.”
Noor said a recent government assessment established that 71,000 children were out of school in Turkana District, 25,000 in Samburu District and another 3,800 in Laikipia District.
Raphael Leshalope, executive secretary of the Samburu District branch of the Kenya National Union of Teachers, said conflicts between the Pokot and Samburu communities had adversely affected education in the area during the past two years.
He said 29 primary schools were forced to close at various times during that period. The disruption affected 6,759 primary school pupils who were forced to flee from raids with their parents.
More than 3,000 of the pupils have gone back to school, but 3,615 others were yet to resume schooling. Some 170 primary teachers were at one time or another forced to flee from their places of work. Three schools, with 700 pupils, remained closed, he said.
“Parents and school-going children suffered a lot in the past two years. Fighting has worsened education standards in Samburu. We do not expect good results in national exams,” said Leshalope.
Samburu councillor Daniel Legerded said the conflicts had increased poverty and illiteracy levels in the district. Loss of livestock to cattle raiders also meant that parents could no longer pay for their children’s secondary education, he said.
He said officials should not be surprised that teenagers have taken up arms. “The government has failed to protect us, our children are only protecting themselves and their parents,” he added.
Feisal Lekworee, a resident of Laikipia, also accused the government of neglecting pastoralists who inhabit the arid and semi-arid rangelands of northern and northeastern Kenya.
“We need a commitment to assist these children. We need boarding schools everywhere so that when conflicts erupt children are safe and learning is not disrupted,” he said.