Respect religious rights of learners, principals urged

Monday, March 7th, 2022 05:00 | By
Education PS Julius Jwan Photo/Courtesy

Schools heads have been warned against violating learners’ religious rights.

Education PS Julius Jwan says some schools have been interfering with learners’  freedom of worship, denying them admission or expelling them.

“The ministry has achieved significant milestones in ensuring no child is left behind or excluded from getting education. But even as the government allocates more resources to ensure all children are in school, a few administrators and managers are using flimsy excuses to keep learners away from school,” said Dr Jwan in a circular released on Friday to all county directors of education.

Jwan said the ministry wants to ensure the religious rights of learners are protected, adding that school administrators, boards of management, sponsors and other stakeholders should not violate these freedoms.

“Enforce this circular and cascade the same to all sub-county directors of education,” the PS directed.

He said violations include prohibition from wearing religious attire such as hijabs and turbans, and forcing students to study subjects such as Islamic religious education, Christian religious education and Hindu religious education.

The PS said some schools are denying learners an opportunity to observe religious rites, and failing to allocate worship rooms or spacesm.

Also, some schools force learners to participate in religious rites and activities that are contrary to their beliefs.

The PS issued the circular as directed by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who at the weekend said there is nothing wrong with a child wearing an Akorino turban in learning institutions.

 He said children of the  Akorino faith should not be discriminated against by virtue of the turban.

“There is another policy statement I want to make here regarding the Akorino sect in the country. I have been seeing many children and grandchildren in primary and secondary schools with Akorino turbans and there is nothing wrong with that. We will issue a circular to all sub-county directors of education to enforce this issue,” he said on Saturday.

The PS added that violation of religious rights is against various legislation, regional and international conventions.

He cited the Constitution which acknowledges that Kenyans have diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. .

Chapter 4 on the Bill of Rights, he said, bestows fundamental freedoms that include freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion. He stressed on the right to manifest one’s beliefs through worship, practice and teaching, adding that no one should be denied access to any institution, employment, facility, or enjoyment of any right owing to religion.

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