Teachers flee, schools close in Kenya with al-Shabab attacks

Source: Associated Press

By TOM ODULA

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Every school day, Abdirizack Hussein Bashir rises at dawn for an eight-kilometer (five-mile) trek through a dangerous forest where he sometimes faces harassment by Kenyan army patrols hunting down extremists.

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Now the 12-year-old’s dream to become a doctor is threatened. Attacks by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab against non-Muslims have forced the transfer of hundreds of teachers from the border area with Somalia, where the extremist group is based. Schools have closed and thousands of children are affected.

At least 224 primary schools and 42 secondary schools in Wajir County can no longer function after non-local teachers fled. The exodus was caused by the Feb. 16 al-Shabab attack on a primary school in which two non-Muslim teachers were killed. Kenya’s Teachers Service Commission transferred 329 teachers elsewhere for their safety. Many others left on their own. In all, 917 non-Muslim primary school teachers have left the region.

It is the largest-ever mass exodus of teachers from the region, observers say.

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