With several teachers killed in Kenya since the beginning of the year, concerns over teacher security are increasing, pushing unions to demand government protection for education workers.
Disgruntled parents attacking educators
In a statement to the Ministry of Education, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), a member of Education International (EI), highlighted a pattern of attacks on teachers and head teachers perpetrated by parents and communities angry over allegedly poor school results.
The KNUT reported several instances where parents entered schools and attempted to evict head teachers. On 6 January, Daisy Mbathe, a teacher at Ndooni Primary School, was attacked and killed by a group of people that allegedly included students’ parents.
Denouncing the “most barbaric attack”, KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion stressed that the emerging culture where communities and parents can assault teachers without fear of consequence must be stopped in its tracks.
Teachers targeted by terrorists
On 13 January, three teachers were killed by Al-Shabab terrorists in Kenya’s Garissa County. The three teachers - Caleb Mutangia Mutua, Titus Sasieka Mushindi, and Samuel Mutua – were not local to the area. Al-Shabab has targeted non-local teachers serving in public schools in the past.
Responding to the news, the KNUT condemned the attacks and reminded the government of its promise and duty to protect teachers in areas threatened by terrorists.
A climate of fear
According to the KNUT, attacks on teachers are an increasingly common phenomenon, causing “panic, fear and anxiety among teachers”. The situation has affected the quality of teaching and the academic performance in several schools.
Teachers who feel unsafe should promptly “vacate the insecure areas without any delay to save their lives”, the KNUT outlined. The union requested a meeting with the Ministry of Education and the Teachers’ Service Commission to discuss the situation of teachers under threat. Collective action will follow if the government fails to meet this demand for dialogue.
The demand for increased security was echoed by David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, who stated: “The whole education community mourns the victims of this mindless violence. The Kenyan government must work with educators and their union and ensure teachers and all education workers have the protection they need.”