By Judith Akolo
Education Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i has expressed concern over what he terms is interference by religious organisations in the running of the education sector.
Dr. Matiang’i the organizations have been want on compelling government to appoint and retain or remove those they perceived to be incompetent from heading the public schools they sponsor.
The Education CS said that although the government recognised the important role played by the church in the development of education, “it should not blackmail the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) into appointing or retain incompetent people as head of public schools in the country.”
Dr. Matiangi said the standards of education in some schools had gone down because “Bishops could not allow the government to determine who heads the schools,” he averred and added, “We should not sacrifice the quality of education at the altar of sponsorship of schools by churches.”
He asked the Bishops to first evaluate the performance of the people they are demanding should head the schools they sponsor before forcing the TSC to appoint such people.
Speaking when he received representatives of religious leaders at his Jogoo House Office, who included, Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba for Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, (KCCB), Rev. Julius Mwamba for Presbyterian Church of East Africa, (PCEA), Bishop Dr. John Macharia for Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) Abdalla Kamwana for Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), Rev. Eric Onzere of Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Kenya.
Present during the occasion included the Principal Secretary for Basic Education, Dr. Belio Kipsang, the Director General, Mrs. Leah Rotich and the Director for Policy and Partnership and East African Affairs, Mr. Darius Mogaka Ogutu.
Dr. Matiang’i further urged them to help the Government to delocalize the appointment of schools heads, saying appointment of heads to head schools from within their birth place had introduced clan and tribal politics into who heads schools.
He said the policy of appointing heads to schools within their clan or tribe had had a negative effect on effective and efficient management of schools in terms of curriculum and general management of the institutions.
He said the Teachers Service Commission intends in the next two or three years to delocalize the appointment and deployment of school heads, saying such a policy will revitalize the standards of most schools.
“We cannot do anything school heads who destroy our institutions because they happen to be our sons and daughters,” Dr. Matiang’i said, noting the clan’s people always come to the defence of an offending school head even though he/she happen to have destroyed local institutions they ought to safeguard.
He said the government will support the TSC when it rolls out the policy of delocalization of school heads.
He allayed the fears that the government wanted to alienate land on whose land the schools they sponsored stood.
He said it was important that the public schools land be protected from possible excision and be registered either under the name of the National Treasury or for schools on land owned by churches, be registered under the joint ownership of the National Treasury and the sponsoring Church or religious organisation.
He said Nairobi had a shortage of 24,000 secondary places for Children sitting Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, while in Muranga County; some 25,000 acres of land belonging to Public Schools had been alienated or stolen.
“We cannot expand educational opportunities for the ever growing school enrollment if we cannot protect school land,” Dr. Matiang’i noted.
The CS also asked the clergy, asked the clergy to help the government curb the radicalization of students in learning institutions.
“You have a great ability to reach the hearts and minds of Kenyans hence the need for you to participate in helping protecting our children from radicalization,” Dr. Matiang’i said.
He said the clergy could design programmes and activities for young people in their respective churches for orienting children in ways that they grow into solid individuals.
He said there was a crisis of parenting, and urged the church to spend more time on looking at parents whose model of parenting could be making children more vulnerable to radicalization.