Passion for job won't let Al-Shabaab deter teacher

Written By Jane Njeri Thuo

It has been said since time and again that one should have love for their jobs,but for one teacher,the love for job has suppased peoples imagination. Despite being afraid she still holds on to do what she does best -teaching.

This is the story of Ms Monica Muhoro has a simple yet powerful explanation why she has defied al-Shabaab attacks to continue teaching her pupils in Garissa.

Some people, she says, get into teaching by accident. To others, it is a calling and there is no doubt in which category she falls. The determined teacher has stayed put in the Mansabubu Primary School in far-flung Fafi sub-county, about 120 kilometres from Garissa.

“The sight of these innocent faces that are thirsty for education is what holds me back whenever I pack my bag and think of running away like my colleagues,” she says while pointing to the pupils in her overcrowded classroom.

A few months ago, al-Shabaab militants raided two villages in Bulla Golol and Yumbis not very far from her school and “preached” to locals twice.

They announced that they would not spare non-local civil servants in a bid to send a strong message to the Kenya Government that it must withdraw its soldiers from Somalia. The fear of the Shabaab has forced an exodus which has seen some schools being single-handedly run by head teachers.

What is more remarkable is that she teaches in a school located in an area which does not have communication or roads.

When the Sunday Nation team visited the school recently, Class One pupils were singing the alphabet in unison while finishing off the term’s syllabus before closing school.

Ms Muhoro says her teaching is a call from God to mould responsible citizens for the future.

“If we abandon these young souls now at their hour of need, we shall make them more vulnerable to embracing bad ideology out of desperation for knowledge,” she said.

Ms Muhoro says that her lowest moment as a teacher was when terrorists raided Garissa University College and massacred 142 people, the majority of them students.

“When schools were re-opening in May, a month after the April 2 killings at the college, I started packing for my return journey here. My family felt distraught over my decision,” she says.

“My family were justifiably concerned over my safety but they couldn’t understand the power of the innocent faces of my little Class One pupils whose future is in my hands and that of other teachers.”

She said she decided to come back and help the pupils. “I’m sure if I didn’t return these innocent children, who hold the key to the future prosperity of this region, would have been out of school now just like thousands of their colleagues in other schools which closed after they were abandoned by their teachers. The local communities are equally hurt by the actions of those killing innocent people,” she said.

Ms Muhoro is the only non-local teacher in her school after six of her colleagues joined other teachers who fled from the region.

The exodus of teachers has created a major crisis in the education sector in the region. Last week, the Teachers Service Commission transferred more than 800 teachers who were camping at its headquarters demanding new stations. 

In December, the Somalia-based militants killed more than 20 teachers in Mandera after they waylaid a Nairobi-bound bus and pulled out non-Muslim travellers before executing them in cold blood.

The most recent attack was an assault in the Soko Mbuzi area which killed 13 quarry workers and the wife of the landlord who attempted to dissuade attackers from killing her tenants. 

“After the Mandera attack, teachers in our school became so restless due to the area’s proximity to the border with Somalia. None of my colleagues turned up for the second term fearing for their lives, forcing me to handle all classes just to make sure pupils at least had one or two lessons per day and hoping that things would get better soon but that has not happened,” says the soft spoken teacher from Nyandarua County.

“I pray hard every day to God to keep me safe from the hands of anybody who wants to harm me unjustly. I believe my prayers won’t fail me as I’m serving to shape the future of innocent children.”

Her particular passion is handling the youngest pupils. “Since I was posted in north eastern I took interest in teaching lower classes, which are mainly avoided by most of the teachers due to the extra work and patience required to teach children mostly under 10 years. I believe these children deserve education just like any other children in the country,” said Ms Muhoro who is the first born in a family of six. 

Ms Muhoro appealed to the government to boost security in the area and especially to return the Administration Police post which was withdrawn from Mansabubu over security concerns. 

Kassim Elite Forum, a group of professionals who conducted a funds drive to recruit untrained teachers to step in for the departed tutors, praised Ms Muhoro’s stance. 

“She is a great example and we appeal to her colleagues to come back and provide the much needed services to children in the region,” said the forum’s chairman, Mr Ahmed Omar.

Reference :

Teachers,attack,ms Monica Muhoro