Monday, October 19, 2009

KEC-CS Press Statement: Religious Dress in Catholic Schools

"On 13th August 2009, His Eminence John cardinal Njue, Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference and all the Catholic Bishops in Kenya wrote a letter to all Catholic public Sponsored and private schools informing them that the issues of HIJAB in schools needs consultation. Consequently, they asked that the STATUS QUO – BEFORE the issuance of the circular from the ministry of education – BE MAINTAINED in these schools until an agreement is reached amicably. Thus, they instructed that the code of dressing, as per the admission requirements be adhered to in all Catholic schools.

"Earlier Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley, Bishop Chairman, Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for Education and Religious Education, had written a letter dated July 15th, 2009 to the permanent secretary, ministry of Education, questioning the directive that the permanent secretary had issued regarding religious dressing on July 14th, 2009 and called for dialogue and consultation before implementation. He also recommended strongly that the directive and implementation be withdrawn.

"The need for consultation and dialogue arises from the fact the Catholic Church has her own religious traditions, discipline and philosophy of education that is cherished and held in all catholic schools. This is what has made Catholic schools what they are. For that reason, the Church has to be involved in any decision that might affect her directly or indirectly. In addition the directive was issued without taking into consideration the views and concerns of the Catholic Church and other Christian churches.

"It is a well known fact that Catholic schools all over the country are open to all children regardless of their social status or religious affiliation. This is why the Church is careful to maintain a certain degree of uniformity in her schools for the good and interest of all as she endeavours to build one people and one nation.

"Therefore, the recognition of any religious emblem is and should be subject to consultation with sponsors of the respective schools. Otherwise, it means that the sponsor’s role is no longer recognized by the ministry of Education and this is against the 1968 Education ACT (Revised 1980) which has not been repealed. In this matter of the religious dressing, therefore, the Catholic Church is requesting that her rights and concerns be respected and the issue be subjected to consultation and dialogue by all stakeholders in education with the aim of reaching an amicable agreement.

"We wish to point out that any concern as to why the Catholic Church has not implemented the circular of the permanent Secretary – Ministry of Education – in her public sponsored and private schools should only be addressed to the chairman of Kenya Episcopal Conference and not the heads of the respective institutions.

"In conclusion, we pray that this matter of the Hijab he handled with reason and respect, avoiding confrontation and threats, for harmonious co-existence – taking into account that our children are about to sit for the National and end of the year examinations."


Rt. Rev. Phillip Anyolo
Ag. Chairman; Kenya Episcopal Conference
17th October, 2009

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