EDUCATION CRISIS

Hero chief teaches maths, religion as non-locals flee

Civil servants, NGO staff dedicate free time to teaching in schools where non-locals have fled

In Summary

• Chief Dekow Ahmed has volunteered to take over the mathematics and religious lessons for Class 8 pupils whom he calls the most vulnerable. 

• The school’s headteacher Siyat Hussein said  23 non-local teachers have fled — fearing terror attacks — leaving only 12 teachers for more than  2,000 pupils.  

Iftin East location chief Dekow Ahmed teaches maths to Standard 8 pupils at Iftin Primary School.
HERO: Iftin East location chief Dekow Ahmed teaches maths to Standard 8 pupils at Iftin Primary School.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

If there ever was a case of doing the right thing, this is it.

There's a teaching crisis in Garissa and other Northeastern counties.

Civil servants and NGO staff are dedicating their free time to teach in schools. Non-local teachers have fled. They were transferred by their employer, the Teachers Service Commission, for fear of al Shabaab terror attacks.

I was deeply touched on learning that 23 non-local teachers in the school had left. That leaves only 12 teachers for more than 2,000 pupils.
Chief Dekow Ahmed

At Iftin Primary School, area chief Dekow Ahmed has taken over mathematics and religious students for Class 8 pupils, calling them the most vulnerable.

Ahmed, the Iftin East location chief, was a teacher before joining the former provincial administration.

"I was deeply touched on learning that 23 non-local teachers in the school had left. That leaves only 12 teachers for more than 2,000 pupils," he told the Star.

He said has to balance his tie carefully. He begins classes from 6am until break time, when he goes back to his office to serve the public as chief.

Ahmed, a former pupil at the school, said the crisis forced him to sacrifice some from his busy schedule to help students. But it's really not a sacrifice.

"Surely, I could not just sit down and watch as our young people suffer after teachers left en mass," he said.

"I have a teaching background to offer. I have my own children, brothers and close relatives with children. I was obliged to chip in," Ahmed said.

Ahmed used to be a teacher at Jaribu Primary School in Garissa.

Muslim communities in the region and other stakeholders have appealed to communities to support the school administration and find stopgap measures until a permanent solution is found.

The school’s headteacher, Siyat Hussein, praised the chief, saying he was coming at the right time when his services are most needed.

“As a  school, we have been left exposed by the departure of non-local teachers who left without notice. The situation is worse because they were the majority. The current situation compromises our performance," he told the Star.

Only three non-local teachers are left and they declined to speak to reporters.

Ijara MP Sophia Abdi who on Monday locked the TSC offices in Garissa, blaming the teachers' employer for the education crisis.

She herself is a teacher by profession. She praised the chief and urged other volunteers to help.

“I express my gratitude to the chief who took it upon himself to fill the gap deliberately created by the TSC by transferring teachers and jeopardising children’s future," she said.

"I urge other energetic retired teachers to come out and volunteer to teach again.

(Edited by V. Graham)