All County Directors of Education
RE: VIOLATION OF RELIGIOUS RIGHTS IN SCHOOLS
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to the provision of quality education to all children in Kenya.
Towards this end, the Ministry has achieved significant milestones in ensuring no child is left behind or excluded from getting education.
It is however noted that even as the Government is allocating more and more resources to ensure all children are in school, a few of the school administrators and managers are using flimsy excuses to keep learners away from schools.
In particular, it has been noted that some schools are violating the religious rights of learners and using religion as a factor to either deny admission or expel learners from school. This violation normally takes the form of;
- Prohibition from wearing religious attire like hijab and turbans;
- Forcing students to take Islamic Religious Education (IRE), Christian Religious Education (CRE), Hindu Religious Education (HRE) subjects;
- Denying learners an opportunity to observe religious rites and prayers;
- Failure to allocate worship rooms or spaces; and,
- Forcing learners to participate in religious rites and activities that are contrary to their beliefs.
The violation of religious rights is against various national legislation, regional and international conventions.
In particular, the Constitution of Kenya 2010, acknowledges that Kenyans belong to diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and the Constitution elaborately expounds on the need to respect these diversities.
In particular, Chapter 4 on Bill of Rights bestows rights and fundamental freedoms that include:
(i) The right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and opinion (Article 32(1)
(ii) The right to manifest his/her beliefs through worship, practice, teaching and observance (Article 32(2)
(iii) No one may be denied access to any institution, employment, facility or enjoyment of any right because of one’s religion or belief (Article 32(3) iv. One cannot be compelled to act or engage in an act that is contrary to his/her religion (Article 32(4)
Further, the Basic Education Act 2013 protects the rights of children to access education.
Section 4 on the Guiding Principles in provision of education provide among others;
a) The right of every child to free and compulsory basic education
b) Protection of every child against discrimination within or by an education department or education institution on any ground whatsoever.
The violation of religious rights in schools has negative effects on maintenance of peace and tranquility and some students end up dropping out altogether.
The Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring the religious rights of learners are protected and will not allow school administrators, Boards of Management, Sponsors or any other stakeholder to violate these rights.
You are directed to enforce the contents of this circular and cascade the same to:
- All Sub Country Directors of Education in your County
- All Basic Education institutions under your jurisdiction
Julius O. Jwan, PhD., CBS