Pastoral Letter on Education
September 30, 2019
Value Based Education the Safeguard of Our Nation
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
This Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) recognizes that education is indisputably the strongest driver of society. Today’s education shapes tomorrow’s society and social values. In a paper adopted by our General Assembly in August 2018, a survey exploring the role and influence of five factors on informing and forming children and youths ranked their level of influence as:
School – 34.2%
Family – 21.6%
Media (social and mainstream) – 21.6%
Church – 12.2%
Market Place – 10.3%
Recognizing the high level of influence that education has on our current and future society, we wish to share this inspiration with all the members of our churches, and especially those who participate in management and / or administration of schools.
- History of Ownership of Schools
The first school established in Kenya was at Rabai Mission by the Church Missionary Society in 1844. Thereafter, it became the standing practice of missionaries to establish a church, a school and a health center at every mission station, as a result of which churches founded more than 60% of the schools in Kenya. It is therefore quite unfortunate that the Basic Education Act 2013 effectively nationalized the church founded schools and seeks to push churches (sponsors) out of the governance of the institutions. We in the Council have been working with other faith based institutions to advocate for amendment of the Basic Education Act 2013 so as to safeguard the properties and interests of the churches that founded the schools.
It is with this understanding that we request the members of Boards of Management whose schools had their signboards changed to remove the name of the sponsor to communicate with the head offices of their denominations. In our past consultations with the Ministry of Education, was agreed that this action needs to be reversed.
We also ask you to indicate instances where the registration of the land on which the school stands was changed from the church to any other entity. Such transfer are against the directive given by His Excellency the President in November 2018.
- Value Based Education
This Executive Committee wishes to remind all that the moral decadence being witnessed in the society today is a reflection of the failure by the education system to inculcate values in the learners. This is the what we warned the government in June 1913: “a system of education which aims at training of youth with no regard for religious truths ignores the very foundation upon which all that is noble in a people shall be built”. We strongly recommend that the education system integrates the national values contained in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, include means of assessing understanding and embracing of the values, and peg career progression of teachers on positive influence on learners in additional to professional standards already set.
- Religious Regalia in Schools
This Executive Committee reiterates that the requirements by each school that all learners wear similar uniform should be respected and adhered to. No learner should adorn religious regalia while in school. This will ensure inclusive, holistic, effective and safe formation of all learners. While in school, each learner should be accorded opportunity and space to observe the practices of their faith. Nonetheless, the sponsor should retain the right to provide spiritual formation in the institution since that is part of the original intention of establishing the institution. In addition, a school founded or sponsored by a faith based institution should not be compelled to establish on the school compound a worship structure of another faith.
- Competence Based Curriculum
The NCCK, together with the other faith institutions in the country, has been involved in the development of the CBC framework and content since the initiation of the concept. We have in our engagements with the Ministry of Education pointed out the need to expand training on CBC to cover all the teachers, including those in private schools. There is also need for an inclusive process to audit the infrastructural and human resource requirements of the CBC before it is fully rolled out across the country. We have also indicated to the Ministry of Education that the implementation of the CBC should not exert on parents an extra financial burden.
On funding of education, this Executive Committee urges the government to extend the per capital financing to all learners, and not just those in public schools. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 is very clear that a citizen should not be discriminated against, including on the basis of their parents’ ability to pay the fees charged in a private school.
On your part as a parent, we encourage you to take a keen interest so as to understand the new education system and also to actively participate in parent activities. Remember that school has more influence than your home, and your participation there is critical.
- Increase in Teenage Pregnancies
This Executive Committee has over the last few years noted the publication of statistics showing increase in teenage and pre-teenage pregnancies. As we indicated in our presentation to the Senate in July 2019, the primary cure for teenage and pre-teenage pregnancies is strict enforcement of the law to speedily punish every man who makes a girl pregnant. It is hypocritical for anyone to claim to address teenage pregnancies while leaving the guilty men to escape justice. We request you, as a Christian and a law abiding citizen, to expose and where necessary support the prosecution of any man, regardless of their age or relationship to you, who you know has sexual contact with an underage girl.
- Comprehensive Sexuality Education
We in NCCK are aware that the young ones require holistic formation. We have therefore been collaborating with other faiths and the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) to develop a homegrown Human Sexuality Programme that will help our children develop a value-based mindset. In the meantime, we make the following requests:
The Young Persons: We ask you to abstain from sex and focus on your studies. This will help you and your families realize your full potential by protecting you from the risks that come with premarital sexual experimentation. Be open and include your parents / guardians and other family members in your decisions about relationships and sexuality and the challenges that you face.
Parents / Guardians: We ask you to openly and honestly engage the young people in conversations on spiritual values, dating and relationships, and sexuality, including discussions about teen pregnancy prevention and protection from sexual violence. We especially ask you to watch out for schools or Non Government Oganizations who seek to take your children through programmes that have foreign content that is inappropriate in our context since it is designed to sexualize the children. Always demand to see the full curriculum of any programme your children are being taken through.
Church Leaders: We ask you to oppose and denounce any form of underage marriage in your community. In the churches, kindly provide a safe environment to the young people where they can discuss sexuality, intimacy and relationships in a spiritual context.
We read in Philippians 4: 8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”.
For the betterment of our society, let us all contribute to the improvement of the education sector so that our children are enabled to have value-based mentality and attitudes.
May God bless all those who are seeking to exert a positive influence on the education sector in our country.
Signed on this 23rd day of September 2019 at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru
Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki
Rev Canon Peter Karanja