Hundreds of schools in Kenya could be shut down as Somalia’s al-Shabab Muslim militants have terrorized teachers from showing up to work, jeopardizing the future of thousands of youths, according to news reports from the East African nation.
The terrorist group incited a wave of fear among Christian teachers following the April massacre of 148 Christian students at Garissa University College, Christian Today reported.
Schools in the predominantly Muslim region rely on Christian teachers, with at least 95 public schools shutting down because of teachers’ absences, Jacob Kaimenyi, the cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Education, told Religion News Service.
The ministry also reported that over 2,000 teachers are refusing to return to work, risking the closure of almost 500 more public schools.
By terrorizing the teachers from working, al-Shabab is also putting the future at risk for Kenyan kids, particularly students preparing for the national university entrance exam — the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.
“You might not have a physics teacher in four years,” Ismail Barrow, acting director of education for Mandera County, told the New York Times. “But the student has to sit for a physics KCSE.”
Emphasis on higher education has increased since rural towns were devastated by recent severe droughts that cause livestock to perish, which the New York Times said was the source of income for many of these families.
James Ndonye, headmaster of the Ibnu-Siina school in northern Kenya, told CNN that blocking education is no accident — it is al-Shabab’s entire motive.
“They want to make sure they terrify the teachers so they go to their homes — so the kids in this area don’t get what they deserve,” he said.
Christian Today reported that the focus on school attacks may be because “schools and universities can often be seen as places of Western influence,” which is often the objective target of terrorist groups.