Churches Play A Pivotal Role In Growth And Development Of Our Schools 

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Churches Play A Pivotal Role In Growth And Development Of Our Schools 
L-R: Victor Ochieng and Ribe National School Students Photo/Victor

BY VICTOR OCHIENG’ 

A fortnight ago, I had the highly-coveted chance to visit Ribe National School in Kilifi County. Mr. Benson Manoo, the Chief Principal of the school, invited me to that fountain of aperitif of knowledge for a tripartite assignment. Foremost, I had a candid conversation with the candidate class poised for KCSE at the tail-end of this year. Secondly, I built the capacity of captains that act as the strong bridge between the student body and administration or teachers. Thirdly, I met teachers of English Language and Literature, and conferred with them over Best Academic Practices pertaining the teaching of English as a compulsory subject in secondary schools. 

Somehow, this was my first time to meet this mild-mannered-man called Manoo; the pious principal who believes in theocracy – a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God. Somewhat, this divine connection came through his wise and winsome wife; who is the Senior Principal of Kyondoni Girls in Kitui County. There is a common denominator in these two school arrowheads. When you meet and interact with them, you will realise that they prioritise God Almighty in everything they do. In schools they serve God’s purposes, they are keen to keep and uphold the rich Christian culture and tradition. This pious approach to leadership, is what we wish to see in most of our institutions here and there. Principals who revere God are wise. They are not otherwise. They are cognizant of the fact that leaders tap wit and wisdom in three major ways: One, the fear of God is wisdom. Two, accumulation of common sense is wisdom. And three, right application of knowledge is wisdom. Solomon, who according to 1 Kings 4:32, says in Proverbs 4:7 that wisdom is the principal thing. In all our dealings we should seek understanding. 

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At this juncture, I can confidently say that while holed up along the picturesque coastal strip, doing this and that, I imbibed a lot scintillation stories oscillating around the role the church on schools and scholarship. Focusing on the central plank of this piece, in actual sense, Ribe National School is a classic case of the puissant impact of the church on education. In my maiden visit, I was impressed by the rich Christian tradition which the Chief Principal did not dither to share to act as food and fodder to the passionate penman born and brought up at the sultry shores of Lake Lolwe. Ribe Boys sits in a vast mission area close to Kaya shrines – the sacred grove, where the polite people from the Mijikenda Community used to visit to pay homage to their impeccable pantheon of good gods. The exact place the school is perched, is a sacrosanct spot where the Methodist Church started then spread like bush fire to other parts of Kenya. It is important to note: Ribe is close to Rabai – the first place in Kenya, where the Church Missionary Society (CMS) from Britain established a mission centre. Johann Ludwig Kraft who was among the first protestant missionaries in Kenya is also remembered to have played a pivotal role in the provenance and proliferation of the Methodist Church in Kenya, whose impact is evident in some of our schools in Kenya. 

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Consequently, those who are at home with our rich national history, know, churches have played a pivotal role in the growth and development of schools. Schools built by missionaries in the distant past have august infrastructure. Churches that sponsor our schools in this age and dispensation have the mandate to propagate this wonderful work. For instance, in 1906, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) birthed Maseno School in Kisumu. Alliance High School started in 1926, and Alliance Girls started in 1938, are attributed to the alliance of three protestant churches that played a pivotal role in their conception, birth and growth. The four churches include: The Church of Scotland Mission which later morphed to Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). There was Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK) presently known as Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). The other two were African Inland Church (AIC) and Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK). 

Churches Play A Pivotal Role In Growth And Development Of Our Schools 
Photocredits/VictorOchieng

Moreover, institutions like Ribe National School in Kilifi, strive to preserve the culture instilled and inculcated by church and clergy. No wonder, such churches deploy chaplains to take care of spiritual programmes in schools they sponsor. Like, when I visited Ribe to roll out the pep talks and training programmes we buttressed on sound Christian principles and practices, we worked in close-range with the calm and composed Chaplain of the school, a clever cleric deployed there by the Methodist Church of Kenya. 

Therefore, we all see the churches which sponsor schools, play an integral role in the growth and development of our institutions. Principals of schools who maintain a cordial relationship with the sponsors, accrue bountiful benefits. Just to capture a few: Emissaries from the churches provide psycho-social and spiritual support to both students and staff. They provide professional plus pastoral counselling. Schools with dedicated and devoted sponsors meet the triad purpose of schools: Value-addition, character-development and holistic-formation. Education Act, 2013 while spelling out the role of church sponsorship on deft management of public secondary schools, this is what it posits: Church sponsors are expected to participate in the preparation of religious education syllabus. It is incumbent upon them to provide good guidance on school staffing, implementation of education policies, search for new pragmatic approaches to education, and be at the centre stage of resource-mobilisation in our schools. 

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The writer rolls out talks and training services in schools. [email protected].

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