Education officials, clergy warn against mass action

Azimio supporters in a confrontation with police during their antigovernment protests in Kakamega on March 27, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Education stakeholders and church leaders have called on political leaders to use dialogue in resolving issues instead of acts that could disrupt learning.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Collins Oyuu said should street protests return, most schools would be affected.

Oyuu said confrontations between demonstrators and security agencies are a danger to the lives of teachers, parents and learners.

"The protests in residential areas have not only risked lives of teachers, pupils and parents but also caused destruction to school property," he said.

He said many learners in informal settlements have been gravely affected by the recent protest led by the Opposition.

Oyuu said Standard Eight and Form Four candidates need a humble time to prepare for their final exams.

Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli appealed to political leaders to ensure learners have a conducive environment.

''I pray that those who'll be on the negotiation table on behalf of our country do their best not only for the sake of our school-going children but also for peace and stability,'' Indimuli said.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Akelo Misori said learning can only thrive when there's peace.

Akelo said: ''I urge church leaders to convene a meeting that will bring the two sides together."

At the same time, clerics from North Rift urged politicians to embrace peace.

Fr Timothy Kiplagat of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Pastor Daniel Njoroge of Gracious Children Hope said they would back a handshake only if it will guarantee peace.

Speaking separately in Eldoret, the church leaders praised President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga for creating room for dialogue to resolve problems facing Kenyans.

"As we remember the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ who died to save the lives of mankind, we want to ask politicians from the government side and the opposition to address issues touching on the economy and stop inciteful utterances," Kiplagat.

He said the Catholic Church welcomed the announcement of President Ruto and Raila's willingness to embrace dialogue "because chest thumbing will not solve anything."

Pastor Njoroge said the country deserves unity of purpose and urged Kenyans to continue co-existing peacefully.

"We have just concluded election campaigns a few months ago. We are not ready to go again in that direction, especially this time when the country is grappling with many challenges including insecurity and drought," Njoroge said.

Fr Ambrose Bett of Seminary Parish in Eldoret said the country was headed in wrong direction and called for sobriety among the leaders.

"We don't want to lose lives again, enough is enough," he said.

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