County leaders slam Education CS for banning exam prayer days

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i during the release of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results for 2015 on March 3, 2016. He has been criticised for failing to hold talks with the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) before taking the action. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i has been faulted over his recent move to ban prayer days for candidates sitting national examinations from being held in the third school term.

Dr Matiang’i said the prayers are used as avenues for exchanging materials which later aid cheating in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.

A section of leaders from Vihiga County have rubbished Dr Matiang’i terming the move as ‘un-procedural’.

Led by the County Executive Committee member in-charge of Education Science and Technology Prof Musalia Edebe, a section of Vihiga County leaders have vowed to hold prayers despite the minister's directive.

“As a County Government in Vihiga, we will be the last people to block the church from praying for our children. Candidates require that confidence building before they sit for their examinations and this confidence is built through prayers,” said Prof Edebe.

He criticised the CS for failing to hold talks with the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) before taking the action.

“A major action like that should be done procedurally. Dr Matiang’i ought to have engaged NCCK which is the umbrella organisation of all churches in Kenya instead of issuing press statements,” he added.

According to Dr Matiang’i, the aim is to end unnecessary contact between candidates and outsiders during the exam period.

He said that activities such as annual general meetings will be conducted in the first and second terms of the schools calendar year. Prize giving, thanksgiving and prayer days for candidates will be done in the second term.

However, any prayer arrangements involving school chaplains and teachers will not be affected.

African Divine Church (ADC) Archbishop John Chabuga also expressed concern over Matiang'i's rules.

“What we are saying as religious leaders in this country is that, we cannot oppose prayers. We have to pray so that God blesses this country and also blesses our children to pass their examinations,” said Mr Chabuga.

At the same time, Mr Chabuga said there was need to investigate the conduct of Dr Matiang’i.

“As church leaders, we will now be forced to go ahead and launch a probe into his (Matiang’i) character because we don’t understand why a person in his right senses can be against prayers,” added the Archbishop.

The leaders were speaking at Viyalo Primary School in Hamisi constituency where they opened a new primary school funded by the African Divine Church, Kidshare and Wilde Ganzen Klein from the Netherlands.

The main aim of the partnership is to construct at least four classrooms in schools in remote areas to help needy children access education.