BY VICTOR OCHIENG’
In the recent past, I visited Ribe National School in Kilifi County: to do this and that, especially this. The Chief Principal, Mr. Benson Manoo, invited me to that fountain of knowledge for a tripartite assignment. Being the last lap, I charged the candidate class to tap grace, and finish the race like champions. I built the capacity of captains. Then, met teachers of English and Literature, where I shared some Best Academic Practices.
Somehow, it was my first time to meet and greet the mild-mannered-man, Mr. Manoo, a Principal who is also a pastor. I knew him through his winsome wife, who is the Senior Principal 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 in all matters. Then, they are keen to keep the rich Christian culture in schools they steer.
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Indeed, this pious approach to leadership is what we wish to see in our institutions. Principals who revere God are cognizant of the fact that leaders gain gems of wisdom in three wonderful ways: One, the fear of God. Two, accumulation of common sense. Three, right application of knowledge. Solomon, who according to 1 Kings 4:32 penned 3,000 aphorisms, says in Proverbs 4:7: Wisdom is the principal thing. In all our dealings, we should seek understanding.
Now, I can confidently say, while I was hobnobbing at the Coast with Principals and Chaplains, I heard interesting stories revolving the role churches in our schools. Ribe National School is an excellent example of the great impact of the church, which according to the pen of Apostle Paul, is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
In my first visit, I took note of the rich Christian tradition, which the Chief Principal did not dither to share: to act as fodder to my pen.
In actual sense, Ribe National School sits in the vast mission area close to the Kaya shrines — the sacred grove, where the polytheistic Mijikenda Community used to visit: to pay homage to their pantheon of gods. The place the school sits is a sacrosanct spot where the Methodist Church spawned. Then, like the early church, it waxed strong in faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5.
Again, Ribe is close to Rabai — the first place in Kenya, where the Church Missionary Society (CMS) from Britain established their mission station. Johann Ludwig Kraft, one of the first protestant missionaries in Kenya, played an integral role in the provenance of Methodist Church in Kenya.
Consequently, those who are at home with Kenyan history also know: Some schools built by missionaries in the distant past, boast of august infrastructure and culture. Churches that sponsor our schools in these times and climes have the mandate to preserve the heroic culture.
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In retrospect, in 1906, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) birthed Maseno School. Alliance High School started in 1926. St. Mary’s School Yala started in 1927. The brilliant thought spawned from the Mill Hill Fathers. Alliance Girls started in 1948. Key protestant churches played a pivotal role in the conception, birth and growth of the Alliances. The four churches were, 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). Then, African Inland Church (AIC) and Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK).
Moreover, institutions such as Ribe National School, are trying to keep the culture established by founders. No wonder, such churches deploy chaplains to take care of spiritual programmes in schools they sponsor. For instance, when I visited Ribe to roll out the pep talks and training programmes, we anchored everything on Christian principles and practices. We worked in close-range with the calm and composed Chaplain of the school ― a clever cleric sent there as an emissary of the church.
Therefore, Principals of schools should maintain cordial relationship with the sponsors. It is the best way to beckon blessings. For Chaplains in schools provide psycho social and spiritual support to students and staff. They provide professional and pastoral counselling. Schools with devoted sponsors meet the prime purpose of schools: Value-addition, character-development and holistic-formation.
Finally, Education Act 2013 spells out the role of churches (sponsors) on deft management of schools. That great document posits that sponsors should participate in the preparation of religious education syllabus. In addition, it is incumbent upon them to provide good guidance on school staffing, implementation of education policies, search for new practical approaches to education, and be at the centre stage of resource-mobilisation in our schools.
The writer rolls out talks and training services in schools. [email protected]. 0704420232