The Nation (Nairobi)

23 May 2000

Kenya: Catholics Back Koech Report

Nairobi — The 8-4-4 System of Education should be scrapped as recommended by the Koech Report, the Catholic Church demanded yesterday. At the same time, the church accused some unnamed politicians of interfering in the management of its sponsored schools and asked them keep off.

At a press conference at Waumini House, Nairobi, the church said the call to scrap the 8-4-4 system was received positively by many Kenyans because it was the "only important recommendation of the report." A statement read in turns by the chairman of Kenya Episcopal Conference, Bishop John Njue, Nairobi Archbishop Ndingi mwana a'Nzeki, Eldoret Bishop Cornelius Korir, Fr. Desmond Millar of Lodwar Diocese and Sister Paula Doolin from Loreto said: "The voice of parents and wananchi on this paramount point must be heard and honoured by the government by taking positive action on it." The church scoffed at claims that implementing the Davy Koech (TIQET) report would be too expensive. "What will it cost to scrap the system?" asked Fr. Miller.

"You do not need money to reduce the number of subjects or trim down the syllabus. It will instead save money." Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, the Minister for Education, while releasing the report in April said it could not be implemented because of financial constraints. President Moi has since criticised the report, saying "it would breed corruption since there would be no exams." But the church argued that the Koech team spent more money than it would cost to implement its recommendations. Said Archbishop Ndingi: "the (implementation) expenses must have been foreseen and good projections put in place. If you had so much to spend during that period, why not now?"

A Minister in the Office of the President, Mr. Julius Sunkuli, told Parliament last month that the Koech team spent Sh139 million, with commissioners taking Sh59.3 million as honoraria. Accusing politicians of interference in its schools the church said: "The proper management of sponsored schools has lately become very difficult due to political interference, brought about by the so-much talked about fake stakeholders." The church said it must be consulted as stipulated in the Education Act before the Teachers Service Commission appoints heads and their deputies in primary, secondary and teacher training colleges.

"Merely informing a sponsor about an appointment is not consultation as consultation must include dialogue," they said and called on the government to reactivate the education liaison committee that brought together the sponsors and ministry officials. Politicians were accused of using schools as their power base and having uppermost hand, seemingly even above the Ministry. The Church charged that the government had developed a negative attitude and apathy towards the religious sponsor and "frequently gives undue consideration to politicians' requests."

But when asked to give specifics of interference, Bishop Njue said "reports on the ground abound." He cited one instance in his Embu diocese where TSC has allegedly refused to heed demands to transfer a school head. The Church reiterated that Social Education and Ethics should not be taught in schools as it was not a solution to all social evil in the country. They attributed evils in Kenya to the fact that the subject had replaced Religious education in many schools.

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