BONI FOREST

Boni schools closed over terror to re-open in January

Teachers in five schools fled after reportedly being threatened by militants.

In Summary

• Regional commissioner says all teachers who will be posted to the schools will be housed within security camps. 

• TSC directed to deploy adequate teachers. 

Boni residents react with joy after they were told schools in their areas would re-open next year
WELCOME MOVE: Boni residents react with joy after they were told schools in their areas would re-open next year
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
The team at the Kiangwe Primary School on November 11
CLOSED IN 2014: The team at the Kiangwe Primary School on November 11
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Five Lamu schools closed for more than five years over terror fears are now safe and will reopen in January, officials announced on Tuesday.

All teachers will be housed within security camps.

Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe primary schools — all inside  Boni Forest— were closed in 2014 after teachers fled following threats and attacks by al Shabaab militants.

Some schools were torched, some vandalised.

However, Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata said on Tuesday that security had been fully restored due to the ongoing multi-agency Operation Linda Boni.

Militants have hidden in vast Boni forest and launched attacks from there on military personnel and civilians, but attacks and threats have been greatly reduced.

The government is more than confident in the security of this area. We will, therefore, reopen all the five schools by January 1 next year. We are well prepared.
John Elungata, Coast Regional Commissioner 

The operation was launched by the national government in September 2015 to flush out militants.

Elungata directed the Teachers Service Commission to ensure enough teachers are stationed in schools to ensure learning resumes promptly so Boni area children have access to education like their counterparts nationwide. 

 “The government is more than confident in the security of this area. We will, therefore, reopen all the five schools by January 1 next year. We are well prepared," Elungata said. 

He asked education officials to liaise with the TSC to determine whether some schools can be converted into boarding schools. 

Governor Fahim Twaha praised the government for restoring security and re-opening the schools. "The move wouldn’t have come at a better time," he said.

He urged parents to send their children to school.

“We appreciate efforts made by the government and our security agencies who risked their lives combing the Boni Forest to ensure all criminal elements are eliminated,” Twaha said.

Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Obbo asked the government to deploy teachers from the Boni community. She said many have graduated from teaching colleges while many others are still in training.

Search for Common Ground country director Judy Kimamo and Kiunga Youth Bunge Initiative executive director Noor Daher appealed to the Boni community to cooperate with the government in ensuring development.

The organisations have been working to reduce violent extremism and advocate for reopening schools.

“Today marks a significant milestone.  Communities previously been off from the education system are now able to enjoy their rights, thanks to collaboration among us in the civil society, the county government and security agents,” Kimamo said.

Edited by R.Wamochie 

Coast Regional Commission John Elungata in Kiangwe on November 11
LINDA BONI SUCCESS: Coast Regional Commission John Elungata in Kiangwe on November 11
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES