Religion plays an important role in society. While its influence may be waning, it is far from being irrelevant. Religious organisations are, for instance, an important component of the development machine. Besides their spiritual role, they complement the government’s role in providing crucial social services.
Religious orginisations are an indispensable stakeholder in the education sector as an investor, providing scholarships and other forms of assistance to thousands of learners.
As stakeholders in the education sector and the moral compass of society, religious groups should play a greater role in nurturing the next generation. Besides providing moral and ethical guidance, religion also helps to instill discipline and ethics.
One way of enhancing religion’s influence on our youth’s behaviour and worldview is to ensure their contact with religion during learning goes beyond the formal religious education studies.
There should be more structured involvement by religious leaders in the education of youth through chaplaincy as was recently suggested by Deputy President William Ruto when he addressed the 63rd General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Kenya in Kilifi on Tuesday.
It is a call that deserves support of all stakeholders, including Education ministry, religious groups and parents. Such a programme would give students a stronger moral foundation to check runaway hooliganism and ensure they grow up into more responsible citizens.
But this can only succeed if the reinstatement of chaplaincy is done in a structured and legal manner, with the consent and participation all stakeholders, including the learners.
More importantly, religious organisations and their leaders must be seen to be the moral and ethical beacons that they are expected to be. Far too often, religious leaders have engaged in conduct that is less than edifying, if not downright immoral.
Power struggles, greed and open hypocrisy are certainly not some of the traits we expect our children to get from their school chaplaincies. Yet these vices are now common in many religious communities.
Religious leaders must, therefore, clean up their act if they expect society to entrust the young to them. They should strive to regain their place as the conscience of the nation.