Church wants land, discipline back in schools

Major changes are expected in the management of Church-sponsored schools because of a recent directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The President, while speaking at the Requiem Mass for Archbishop John Njenga, directed the Ministry of Education to revert the management of schools sponsored by churches.

He also ordered that the religious institutions resume ownership of the schools' land.

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The Standard has since established that the Church wants to once again have a say in the appointment of head teachers and principals. The State currently manages the schools, with the Church left to address students' spiritual welfare.

The Church is also pushing to reclaim the land where missionary schools were established and title deeds issued in their trust.

The details emerged yesterday as top Education, Lands and Church officials held the first meeting to actualise Uhuru's one-week ultimatum.

Church officials said that after being sidelined, learners' morals had eroded.

“The Church provided the necessary chaplaincy. Head teachers were appointed on grounds that were firmly in faith and they understood the philosophy and vision of the Church,” said Elias Mokua, director, Jesuit Hakimani Centre.

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Dr Mokua said teaching was not only about exams but character formation and building a holistic child.

The deputy secretary general of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lucas Manwa, said the philosophy of sponsorship had been lost over the years as the State loosened the grip of the Church on school management.

“At independence, an agreement was entered where the Government brings teachers, learning materials and the curriculum and the Church makes schools available,” said Mr Manwa.

He added that school boards were run by the Church and there was "amicable mutual understanding and respect for Church and State".

“But after 1968, several education policies were formulated integrating religious education and secular education. The policies were made and approved without consultation with the Church,” Manwa said.

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He added that as a result, the role of the Church as sponsors was diminished.

“In the subsequent years, the Government requested the Church to allow it to appoint head teachers and be part of school administrations.”

Manwa said things took a turn for the worse from the 1980s when the Government demanded to play a bigger role in the management of schools.

“This is the moment we started seeing strikes because issues of sexual orientation, devil worshipping and drug abuse sprung up,” he said.

Burn schools

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Uhuru also touched on these issues during the Mass, saying: "Look at what is happening in our schools. Look at the level of indiscipline and some of their activities where schoolchildren are burning schools. It tells you there is something missing in their lives."

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) also threw its weight behind Uhuru's order.

“The council welcomes the President’s directive and calls for the establishment of proper policies and amendment of relevant lawns for orderly implementation,” said Hassan ole Naado, the Supkem deputy chairman.

Church-sponsored schoolsPresident Uhuru KenyattaLand ownership