, 14 November, 2019 / 1:21 AM
At a three-day first-ever conference bringing together heads of Catholic-sponsored public Primary Schools in Kenya that started Tuesday, November 12, the need to enhance the Catholic identity of the institutions was emphasized, the headteachers being encouraged to use the facilities available to them in the schools to evangelize.
“It is our task as Catholic school leaders to ensure that teachers, children, support staff and parents understand what Catholic identity of a school is,” the Chairman of the Commission for Education and Religious Education of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Paul Kariuki said during his keynote address to the headteachers gathered at the Kenya-based Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).
He encouraged the headteachers to engage the various stakeholders in their respective Catholic schools across the country so that the identity of Catholicism is enhanced.
“What sets a Catholic school apart, is its Catholic identity,” Bishop Kariuki emphasized and added, “our identity gives us a meaning and a purpose; Catholic identity is a means of evangelization.”
Among the activities that can enhance the Catholic identity in schools, Bishop Kariuki highlighted “a life of prayer centred on Jesus Christ and celebration of Sacraments, catechism, retreats, recollection (and) celebration of patron Saint days.”
The Bishop of Kenya’s Embu diocese also encouraged the headteachers to help facilitate in their respective schools the realization of “positive relationships that are based on respect for human dignity of all” and the furtherance of “positive virtues, values and life-skills that permeate every aspect of the school life.”
“Successful educational programs depend upon the ability of a school to create a safe and conducive learning environment,” Bishop Kariuki noted and appealed to the headteachers to spearhead “works of charity and mercy” in their respective schools and to ensure “academic excellence.”
Convened under the theme, “Raising our Voices – Safeguarding all Children: Our Responsibility,” the conference is being attended by some 230 participants who are deliberating on ways of protecting children in schools, one of the current concerns in the society.
In this regard, the Kenyan Prelate emphasized the need for the headteachers to make every effort to guarantee the safety of children and to ensure that “schools are free from all forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse as well as well as neglect.”
He told the headteachers that it was their responsibility to make sure those enrolled in their schools “understand the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and are safe from drug peddlers and traffickers.”
The Bishop encouraged the headteachers to take up the “responsibility of preventing and responding to abuse of children in and out of school” as well as ensuring that “children in our schools are equipped with values, knowledge and life skills to enable them choose right from wrong, thus making informed decisions.”
Referencing the collective role in education of children, Bishop Kariuki appealed to the headteachers of the Catholic-sponsored primary schools in Kenya to “productively engage with parents and teachers for the good of learners.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa