The Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is still having to battle for the safety of its members in the North Eastern area of the country. Even though its national pay and funding dispute is still not resolved and the union has only just finished a determined nationwide strike, KNUT says it will call its members out again if the government continues to insist on forcing people to teach in an the North East without guaranteeing their safety.

As we reported last month, a number of teachers were among those massacred while travelling on a bus, by the group Al Shabaab in December. Moreover, KNUT members who come from the South have been subject to bullying and oppression by some people in the North East, which has a different religious tradition. As KNUT points out, while other civil servants in the area work in towns, teachers work in isolated rural communities, which can be considerably less secure. As one supportive MP put it: 'Much as the North Eastern learners have a right to education, the government should also note that the teachers in the region have a right to life'.

North Eastern teachers have been camping out in the KNUT headquarters and refusing to return to their posts. Meanwhile, the General Secretary of KNUT, Wilson Sossion has been subjected to considerable harrassment by the authorities, including threats of charging him with 'incitement' because of his stand on the teachers' securtiy.

Large numbers of teachers in Kenya, many of whom have degrees, are leaving the profession because of the poverty pay and bad conditions in which they often have to work, with class sizes typically over 100.  It is against this background that Gordon Brown, the UN ambassador for education, makes largely empty demands for schools to be safe places globally. Calling on businesses to donate money from their 'Corporate Social Responsibility' budget for security measures in a few schools is no substitute for funding schools properly and putting an end to the economic relations which lead to global poverty, and are so often behind the violence and suffering faced by both children and their teachers.