NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – The government has directed that only teachers and students will be allowed to playwright for the schools drama competitions after it emerged that the controversial ‘Shackles of Doom’ play by Butere Girls High School was written by an outsider.
Education Permanent Secretary George Godia said the schools Drama Festivals were part of learning as an extension of the classroom work that students were exposed to and that the writing of scripts and their performance must strictly be done by students with the guidance of teachers.
He directed the Kenya National Drama Association to streamline the regulations that govern drama festivals to ensure that such ‘strangers’ did not take part.
“It also denies a chance to the ministry to place responsibility on the schools if and when it may become necessary to do so,” Godia noted.
This follows the controversy generated by ‘Shackles of Doom’, a play that was only performed at the Drama Festival finals after intervention by the High Court.
The court directed the Education Ministry to allow the staging of the play by Butere Girls High School, arguing that no just cause was given for its cancellation.
‘Shackles of Doom’ was scripted by Cleophas Malala, who claimed that it was banned by the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festival Executive Secretary Patrick Sirengo Khaemba.
Khaemba is said to have banned the play because it allegedly elicited negative ethnic passions but Malala said it was a political decision.
Ironically, the education officials in Butere did not pick out any elements of tribalism when they watched and cleared the play, which topped at the zonal, district and County levels.
“How do you ban a play that you’ve not watched? How do you ban an artistic piece out of rumours and allegations?” asked Malala in a past media interview.
The Permanent Secretary now says outsourcing the writing of scripts and the whole production and direction of the plays by people who are not teachers or students denied a chance to students to develop their talents in creative arts.
“This is to enable the students develop their creative talents in writing scripts, directing and in production of plays and other creative activities,” he added.
The sentiments were supported by the Chairman of the National Drama festival Kahura Chokera who said that strangers to the formal school system were exploiting students for their own ends.
He said non-teachers should use other avenues to ventilate their creative energies instead of exploiting students for their own political ends.