The church is warning that a directive by the government to strip Board of Governors (BOGs) powers to recommend expulsion of errand students from schools is likely to undermine the welfare of students and teachers, exposing boards to ridicule and powerlessness.
In a statement to press, the Bishop Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference- Catholic Secretariat (KEC-CS) Commission for Education and Religious Education, Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley pointed out that ‘to insist that Boards of Governors have no powers to recommend the exclusion of students from schools makes a mockery of the Role of the Board as the Management fora for Schools and reduces their meetings to being directionless which will not help either the standard or manner of education’.
“The impression has now been left with students that no matter what they do the matter can be solved by counselling. It is true that sometimes counselling works for a few students but to say that counselling is the remedy for all types of behaviour undermines the welfare of students and teachers and exposes the Board to ridicule and powerlessness,” said the Bishop.
Government through the ministry of education has barred schools’ Principals and B.O.Gs from recommending expulsion of un-conforming students, directing the schools governors to adopt counselling as the only way to instil discipline. At the same time, the government is ‘empowering’ Prefects to monitor the teachers. Caning was banned in schools as a means for discipline following an outcry of misuse of the same by some teachers.
Bishop cautioned that this will not bring harmony in schools.
“It would be better if students and teachers worked in harmony to improve the school in a less formal and forbidding way. Teachers should be respected as responsible professionals. The sins of a few should not be visited on the majority, he said.
“To undermine the authority of the Principal and the Board will only lead to chaos as parents will see no point in attending when called to discuss the various forms of rule breaking of their sons and daughters. In fact the Boards role will be reduced to inquiring into the price of commodities needed in the School,” said the Bishop.
The Bishop further said that matters with regard to education should be handled with care and radical changes made only after much scrutiny and debate.
According to Bishop Crowley, the directive by the government would be injurious and disappointing to both discipline and management of the schools as it seems to ‘abolish the Act of parliament of 1968 in a manner which is piecemeal and alarming’.
According to the education Act 1968 (chapter 211 of Kenya Law); School boards have wide range of functions, including “to superintend the management of public schools’.
This government directive to bar students’ expulsion comes barely months after widespread schools’ unrest that rocked the country mid 2008 affecting over 168 institutions, which also resulted to death of a student. At that time, Kenya’s Minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof. Samson Kegeo Ongeri is on record calling for expulsion of the students involved.