Seth Onyango @SethManex
President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the ministries of Land and Education to restore church-owned land to the respective religious institutions within a week.
Uhuru, specifically, instructed Lands Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri (pictured) to convene a meeting with his Education counterpart today to initiate the process.
And in what could give faith groups access to billions of education budget, the President instructed the Education ministry to also create a framework for funding church-sponsored schools.
Speaking at the University of Nairobi grounds during the requiem mass for Archbishop Emeritus John Njenga yesterday, the Head of State acknowledged the critical role churches play and said they needed support.
“We must get back to that level where church-sponsored schools are allowed to mentor our children…when you look at some of the challenges in our schools, we have every reason to say so,” he said.
In 2013, a row erupted between the government and religious groups over the State’s takeover of church-sponsored schools without compensating the owners.
At the centre of the row was prime real estate worth billions of shillings owned by the faith-based groups.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), had complained that they were being disposed of their land without compensation.
The acquisition of the property is said to have started in the past decade, pushing out religious sponsors from the management and investment decisions at the schools.
The appropriations have also left government-dominated boards of governors in control of the institutions’ prime assets such as land.
The government had argued it was moving in to enforce national education standards, an argument dismissed by religious groups.
Churches have also decried the grabbing of the properties by private developers and asked the government to move in and secure them.
Meanwhile, the Head of State decried runaway indiscipline in public schools and vowed his administration will restore order.
“Look at the level of indiscipline that we have in our schools. Look at the level of some of the activities where school children are taking upon themselves to burn schools…it tells you there is something missing in their lives. It is not something we heard of in those days,” he said.