The Church’s sacred duty to shape students’ souls

The President’s directive to revert church sponsored schools back to their original owners is right on target. Whereas the Church has been at the forefront in establishing schools and other educational institutions – universities, colleges, and polytechnics – their takeover by the government has posed significant challenges.

In management, the Church has been relegated to a bystander as other forces and interest groups take control of the institutions. The consequence has been, in some cases, total loss of the original objectives for setting up the institutions. This has led to a serious disquiet within the Church fraternity.

Therefore, for several years, Church leaders have been petitioning the government to relinquish ownership of the schools to the original sponsors. Several issues have informed this ask.

The setting up of schools is a highly expensive and mostly unprofitable venture. Other than for some high cost schools, few schools make any profits. The entry of the Church into the education sector has therefore never been driven by any economic considerations.

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Instead, the Church has focused on the biblical injunction in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It is the belief of the Church that critical values are best instilled while a child is still young. Church schools have therefore focused on providing an integrated value-based education to ensure holistic training of children – physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

When the Church entered into partnership with the government, it was to help run the schools more efficiently and effectively. The handover was ostensibly to be a mutually beneficial collaboration that gave government the task of overseeing the educational aspects of schools. The Church was to ensure the social and spiritual wellbeing of the students.

Unfortunately, over time, the Church’s role has been consistently whittled down to the point where, in some cases, it has been thrown out of the affairs of its own schools. The consequence is a situation where emphasis has been on academic performance at the expense of values, morals and spirituality. The product is there for all to see – a highly educated society but with zero values and morals.

Strange ideologies

Sadly, while we have abandoned our own time-tested values and ethics, we have progressively embraced strange foreign ideologies and practices. Traditional disciplinary procedures have been thrown out in favour of practices that have failed where they emanate.

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Religious instruction, especially the Christian faith, is increasingly becoming anathema to many of our educators. Instead, practices previously considered repugnant are being blatantly peddled as human rights issues that must be taught to our children.

Programmes such as Comprehensive Sexuality Education are being forced on us by dubious groups in cahoots with ignorant or compromised education officials. The disciplined, respectful child of yesteryears is gone. Instead, our schools have become the theatre of the absurd.

Interestingly, it is this kind of scenario that pushed many parents in the developed world to resort to home schooling. In many countries, especially in the US and UK, home schooling has come in handy for parents who are uncomfortable with the secular nature of public schools. They have resorted to home schooling in order to give their children a religious education and inculcate important values. The trend is equally fast catching on in Kenya.

The other issue of great concern to the Church are some recent laws and court rulings. Some have appeared to force Church sponsored schools to accord preferential treatment to children and parents who have refused to adhere to prescribed values and practices. It is absurd that one should voluntarily choose to attend what they clearly know to be a Christian school but, once admitted, blatantly refuse to abide by the expected practices of the school.

As the future unfolds, it is a fact that a strong partnership must be maintained between the government and the Church in order to guarantee quality education for our children.

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However, it is a fallacy, as some have argued, that the Church lacks the wherewithal to run schools. Other than for a few entrepreneurs, it is the Church that has invested most heavily in the education sector. Almost every Church in the country today has some form of school or other – from the lowest ramshackle nursery schools to the most prestigious universities.

Those not happy with the President’s directive should help set up more schools but allow the Church to fulfill its God given mandate – to be a transformer of mind, body and soul.

- The writer is Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]

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