PRESS STATEMENT ON THE EDUCATION CRISIS IN TURKANA COUNTY
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to raise an alarm on the education crisis in Turkana and to reiterate what we have always appealed for as area MPs.
First of all, I confirm and appreciate the recent documentary by the media that showed the reality in Loima County. Chief Sylvester Lolele is a trained teacher, who had been deployed in Lokipetot-arengan school as the only teacher before he quit teaching to join Provincial administration as chief. Conditions of the heavy work in the school made him quit, but decided to occasionally help the children. The state of education in Turkana is pathetic and only displays deprivation of basic human rights. The acute shortage of teachers coupled with lack of classrooms and inadequate food in schools has contributed to lack of access to education, low enrolment and high drop-out rate among others.
Turkana County has 352 primary schools with a total enrolment of 130,380 pupils. The teachers are 1,431 with a shortfall of 2,298 (161%). The current national teacher-pupil ratio in Kenya is 1: 47, close to the recommended ratio of 1:45. But in Turkana the average ratio is 1:91. In extreme cases some classes in Turkana have over 150 pupils, making teaching and impossible. Loima Sub-County, which recently was the focus of the media, has 55 Primary schools with 179 teachers and a shortfall of 271 teachers. Some schools have only one teacher doubling up headship and teaching.
Turkana County loses many teachers to external transfers, retirement and natural attrition without replacement. Within this term alone 13 teachers died. This is the desperate story of education in Turkana.
Education is an inherent human right and a basic standard without which people cannot live in dignity. Kenya’s Education’s policy framework stipulates that Education and literacy are essential prerequisites for socio-economic development of this country. What is happening to children in Turkana is an injustice and a serious violation of the UN Convention on Child rights - a human rights treaty to which Kenya is a signatory. It is an abuse of the Kenyan Constitution, which clearly underscores the supremacy of child rights in Article 53 (A right to free compulsory basic education, nutrition, shelter and health among other rights).
To address the high poverty levels of Turkana, destitution, suffering and other injustices, we have to invest in education. How will Turkana break the inter-generational transmission of poverty which we have experienced for many decades? Studies show that 1 yr of primary education increases the wages people earn later in life by 5-15% for boys and more for girls.
I therefore, appeal to the government through Teachers Service Commission to
- Take immediate measures to address the enormous shortfall in the teaching force in Turkana
- Put mechanisms are in place to replace teachers who exit through external transfers, retirement and death
- Ensure that teachers work in the recruiting county for at least 5 years before they go on external transfers
- Motivate teachers special schools ( Loyo school for the deaf and Katilu school for the visually handicapped) by paying them special allowances like their counterparts in the rest of the Country.
- Fast track the recruitment of TSC Commissioners for ease of services to teachers and the children of this country.