Schools still shut five years after Shabaab raid on Lamu

Rusty Lock on a school door in Basuba ward. /PraxidesCheti
Rusty Lock on a school door in Basuba ward. /PraxidesCheti

Schools remain shut in Lamu East for the sixth year running after a spate of al- Shabaab attacks grounded learning.

Basuba ward has five primary schools - Kiangwe, Mangai, Maharani, Milimani and Basuba.

Only Kiangwe primary school has opened. Most teachers fled and swore not to come back after a series of attacks by the Somalia-based terrorists.

The other schools have been shut since 2014 when the first al-Shabaab attack was recorded in the area.

Some of the schools were looted and torched back then.

Basuba ward is among major areas of interest in the ongoing hunt for al-Shabaab terrorists dubbed Operation Linda Boni. The operation was launched in 2015.

The ward has more than 500 learners. Only 260 were lucky to be transferred.

Even Early Childhood Development Education centres - ECDEs have not re-opened for the new term.

As Kenyans all over the country took their children to school for the new term, parents in terror-prone areas in Basuba continued with their usual routine of waiting for the way forward from the government.

Many are optimistic that the schools will re-open this year after security was enhanced in their areas.

Basuba location chief Yusuf Nuri said the residents were optimistic that things will be different this year since the security operation had restored stability and security.

“We don’t see any reason why our children too cannot pursue a better future just like their counterparts all over Kenya,” Nuri said.

Parents have also urged the Teachers Service Commission to post teachers to the five schools after years under lock and key.

In 2015, teachers in the five schools fled after receiving threats from the militants.

The TSC had then indicated that no teacher would be posted back to the terror-prone areas until security is guaranteed.

Efforts by the county government of Lamu to transfer some of the learners to a safe learning centre - Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School in Lamu West - were unsuccessful as many remain at home. The centre can only hold a few pupils at a time.

The Mokowe Arid Zone school offers both day and boarding facilities. It was established in 1992 by the World Bank to serve as a place of refuge for children from minority communities.

Locals have on numerous occasions urged the national government to consider establishing a common learning centre in Basuba to enable children from the terror-prone area carry on with learning.