- Currently, Boni learners have to be airlifted to their school as the major road connecting the villages to the rest of Lamu has numerously been targeted by Shabaab militants who plant explosives-IEDs targeting security vehicles and sometimes, select civilians.
Learners from terror-prone areas in Boni forest, Basuba ward, have not reported to school since the new term begun.
Most of the children in the area attend the Mokowe Arid Zone Boarding Primary School, an institution that was founded in 1992 to specifically cater to learners from underprivileged communities like the Bonis, Sanye and Orma in Lamu county.
Since 2014, the school has become a permanent learning institution for the over 300 learners from the Boni community after all the five schools in their villages were closed down due to al Shabaab attacks that marred the region that year.
Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe primary schools which are close to the Lamu-Somalia border, were all torched and vandalised by militants between 2014 and 2017 after which teachers fled.
Currently, Boni learners have to be airlifted to their school as the major road connecting the villages to the rest of Lamu has numerously been targeted by Shabaab militants who plant explosives targeting security vehicles and sometimes civilians.
Boni learners in grades 3 to 8 from the affected villages have been away from school for three weeks since schools opened on January 3 this year due to transportation challenges as the institution is located hundreds of kilometres away from the villages.
The school headteacher Charles Mzee said learners were still stuck in their homes majorly due to insecurity and transportation logistics.
“Majority of the learners have not come and we understand it’s because of transport challenges and also the issue of insecurity has made parents reluctant to release their children. They are missing out on a lot considering this is the third term and some are candidates,” Mzee said.
Many areas in Boni forest are under the Linda Boni security operation whose aim is to flush out al Shabaab militants from inside the Boni forest.
This means residents are limited in terms of the routes and roads they can use to move around.
Previously, military and police choppers have been used to airlift Boni learners and their teachers to the school.
In recent years, however, parents have been left to bear the transports costs with the only affordable option for many being the use of boda boda operators to ferry their children to school.
Hamadi Somo whose daughter Saumu sits her KCPE exam at the school this year says he has spent close to Sh3,000 to transport her daughter from their Basuba home to the school.
Many parents are however reluctant to follow suit owing to recent Shabaab attacks and previous incidents where the militants have targeted some boda boda riders with IEDs.
The Boni community have called on the county and national governments to intervene and make arrangements for their children to reach the school considering the third term is short.
“The road is very dangerous right now plus it's so expensive doing it on boda boda. The government previously had a plan where they helped airlift our children to school. We don’t know what happened because they had promised that would be permanent,” Abdi Osman of Mararani said.
Lamu county director of Education Joshua Kaaga said plans are underway to have the learners transported to school using boats before the end of this week.
Efforts to reach Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia for a comment were futile as his calls went unanswered.
-Edited by SKanyara