Al-Shabaab is an Islamic insurgent group based in Somalia which now operates in Kenya as well. Their core group consists of Middle-East educated Somali extremists that were partly funded and armed by al-Qaeda’s chief, Osama bin Laden. The unifying idea of Al-Shabab is the establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia and Kenya, and the opposition of anything Western-backed. This insurgent group has been known to enforce its own harsh interpretation of the Sharia Law, including an opposition to western education and a ban on cooperation with humanitarian agencies delivering aid; leading to hundreds of casualties in the 2007 famine.
Within Somalia, Al-Shabaab has launched multiple attacks on schools, carrying out a mass forceful recruitment drive whereby children are abducted from schools and indoctrinated to serve the militant armed group. In April of 2021, Al-Shabaab effectively introduced a new curriculum for all areas under its control; a curriculum 'free of foreign ideas'. Al-Shabaab continues to argue that Western education serves the interests of 'infidels' and aims to pull children away from the teachings of Islam, therefore warning all involved parties of serious consequences if they continue to send their children to schools. Due to this, education is Somalia has suffered for decades. The country is now known to have some of the lowest enrolment rates in the world.
Not only this, Al-Shabaab has also expanded to Kenya as it began attacking schools and killing teachers in the region, mainly launching a campaign against the recruitment of non-local educators. The armed group also staged an attack that targeted the only university in the entire region, Garissa University College, killing 148 students. The kind of fear this created played right into the extremist group's hands, as the government decided to withdraw all non-local school teachers and evacuated teaching staff from the North-East.
Due to this sectarian strife of sorts, millions of Somalian's and Kenyan's now face a bleak future. Even if this crisis is addressed and dealt with soon, it will take a lot of persuasion to improve security and persuade the teachers to return to the region. However, a good starting point would be an evaluation of the corruption in Somalia and Kenya's security sector, as military force on its own has not proven to be enough. In the meanwhile, local teachers should be trained so as to avoid an interruption in education. There should also be good focus on capacity building for civil society groups, community structures, local leaders and the media which could counter the violent extremism. Finally, and most importantly, deliberate policy action needs to be enacted to put an end to these terror attacks, for once and for all.