Catholic Bishops Call for Harmonized, Collaborative Efforts to End Arson in Kenyan Schools

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have called for collective and coordinated disciplinary measures that include counselling to address the “worrying” wave of student unrests that have led to the burning of property in at least 35 schools across Kenya.

In their Thursday, November 11 collective statement, Catholic Bishops in Kenya highlight a number of factors behind the arson, including drug abuse, peer pressure and other stresses exerted on learners by the compressed academic calendar.

They appeal to learners to raise their grievances in constructive ways and to desist from destroying their classrooms, dormitories and other property in their schools.

“We need to review ways of maintaining discipline in our schools through deliberate coordinated efforts of correction, mentorship, counselling and effective chaplaincy ministry,” the KCCB members say, and add that parents should be more involved in the processes. 

The Catholic Bishops say that Boards of Management, Headteachers and School Principals need to be empowered and supported to deal with extreme cases of indiscipline in schools.  


They also urge stakeholders in the education sector to listen to the students and pupils and to find ways to address their challenges. 

All stakeholders including the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission and churches who sponsor schools "should have regular consultative fora to address emerging issues," KCCB members say in their November 11 statement, adding that sponsors have the role of instilling values, morals and enhancing a conducive environment for learning in institutions of learning. 

“Let our children know that we love and care for them and that education is key to their future," the Catholic Bishops say. 

Apart from empowering stakeholders on ways to address indiscipline cases, KCCB members say issues of cultism, and radicalization in schools as well as the challenges related to mental health need to be looked into.  

They also urge the Kenyan government to reintroduce extracurricular activities in schools, which were suspended as a measure to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

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In the collective statement that was read out to members of the Press November 11, Catholic Bishops in Kenya also address concerns about the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) that is set to replace the 8-4-4 education system.

They note that while the new system is beneficial to learners, their guardians and different stakeholders in the education sector, the government should give more capacity and strategic support including the allocation of "more financial and logistical resources" to teachers and parents. 

Further, KCCB members say that parents need to be sensitized on their roles in the delivery of the new curriculum. 

In implementing CBC, the Catholic Bishops have also urged the government to offer “particular attention and greater capacity” to Special Needs Schools. 

Introduced by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in 2017, CBC aims at helping learners to identify their special capabilities then nurturing them through relevant teachings so that learners benefit from their talents. 


The education curriculum that is being gradually introduced in Kenyan schools requires parental involvement in the learning process. 

In their collective statement released after their weeklong Ordinary Plenary Assembly, the Catholic Bishops also discussed Kenya's heightened politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the prevailing drought in some parts of the country. 

“It is unfortunate that our leaders have abandoned delivery of services to the people and moved into full time campaigns well ahead of the legally stipulated campaign period,” KCCB members bemoan. 

In line with the upcoming general elections, they have expressed concern about the malpractices and voter apathy that marked the recent mass voter registration exercise carried out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). 

They described the malpractices and voter apathy as "dangerous trends against the gains we as a nation have made in our struggle for a truly democratic society.”

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Although the mass voter registration has been closed, KCCB members have urged Kenyans above the age of 18 to make an effort to register in their local IEBC offices.

They have also called on voters to exercise their democratic right by voting for leaders of their choice in the August 2022 polls. 

KCCB members have also called on Members of Parliament to enact necessary reforms in the country’s electoral laws in order to ensure free, fair and credible polls.

To the President and the MPs, the Bishops say the vacant IEBC posts especially that of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), which has been unoccupied since June 2020 when Mr. Ezra Chiloba was terminated, needs to be filled “with urgency." 

Kenya’s President nominates an IEBC CEO while MPs vet the nominated candidates. 

On the prevailing drought in Counties within the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, KCCB member have called upon the Catholic faithful in the country to show solidarity with the affected people by donating food and offering other assistance through the Diocesan offices.

They also called on the government to respond "in a swift and coordinated manner" to provide long-term and short-term solutions to the droughts. 

"It is unfortunate that 58 years after independence we are unable to come up with solutions to the perennial droughts that affect our country every few years," they say in their November 11 collective state.  

They add, "As a country we must wean ourselves from obsession with politics and sensationalism at the expense of other important issues of national concern. It cannot be business as usual when Kenyans continue to starve and even die from droughts which can easily be managed through establishment of sound mitigation structures."

The Catholic Bishops in Kenyan have also called on the County and national governments to engage in environmental conservation activities that will help mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, KCCB members have cautioned Kenyans against laxed adherence to health protocols.

“We are not yet out of the woods. We, therefore, must continue to adhere to the Ministry of Health protocols on COVID-19 to avoid sliding back and losing all the gains we have collectively achieved in combating the spread of the virus,” they say, and urge Kenyans to take their personal safety seriously by wearing face masks and observing social distancing when attending public events.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.