, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has instructed the Ministries of Education and Land to restore church-owned land to respective churches within a week.
Kenyatta who spoke during a requiem mass for the late Archbishop Emeritus John Njenga at the University of Nairobi grounds on Tuesday, further instructed the Education Ministry to restore sponsorship of schools by religious institutions.
“There’re a lot of schools sponsored and built by the church. The Ministry of Education, and I’m saying it for the last time today, I want you to ensure that you restore that sponsorship and the land and schools are restored back to their rightful owner,” he said.
Kenyatta specifically directed the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Lands, Nicholas Muraguri, to convene a meeting with the Education Ministry on Wednesday to initiate the restoration of church-owned land and schools.
“The PS Lands (Muraguri) will be with the Education Secretary and he has a week to finalise on the agenda we’ve discussed for the longest time. That is the least we can do to honour the memory of this legend that lays before us,” the Head of State directed.
The directive was in acknowledgement of the role played by Archbishop Emeritus Njenga in the establishment of education institutions through the support of the church.
The concept of church sponsorship of education institutions dates back to the pre-independence era when the colonial government allowed Christian missionaries to build and finance schools.
At Independence, the government adopted missionary schools and registered them as public schools while retaining them under church-sponsorship.
The sponsoring churches were under the Education Act allowed to nominate four of 13 Board of Management members and propose the chairperson of the same.
Most of the land under church-sponsored schools has however remained without titles for some time opening a floodgate for land grabbers to seize huge portions undeterred.
The late Archbishop Emeritus Njenga was among religious leaders who championed for titling of parcels of land where churches had put up schools.
Deputy President William Ruto cited an instance in 1968 when the bishop is said to have engaged then Education minister J. G. Kiano on the matter.
Ruto described the bishop as a selfless leader who rallied for unity and championed for better education while acknowledging the role he played in building education facilities across the country.
“I’ve seen that feat years ago, the bishop had a conversation with Minister Kiano. I think even as we celebrate his life, we need to revisit that discussion that was there between the State and the church especially on matters to do with the integrity of your education and the morality of our children,” Ruto said.
President Kenyatta said church-sponsorship will restore discipline in schools and help nature responsible citizens.
Former Vice President Moody Awori who also attended the mass for Bishop Njenga, his former schoolmate at Mangu, said the retired cleric taught him saying he would miss the bishop greatly.
“I bring condolences from my family and all others who were with him in Mangu High School. There’re only few of us remaining and I think we’re on the way and I hope we will meet soon to discuss how he taught us love and how we enjoyed our lives in Mangu,” the ex-Vice President eulogised.
Awori remembered the late Archbishop Njenga as a peace-loving individual.
“He is the one who taught me catechism and encouraged me to be a good Catholic. The most important thing he emphasised is love. Love is a quality that would help this world as he has helped before,” he said.
In a quick rejoinder, President Kenyatta while conveying his condolences said the former Vice President’s counsel was still valuable to the country wishing him longevity.
“Mzee Moody please don’t be in a hurry to join Bishop Njenga. You still have time so please serve us a little longer here,” he said amid laughter.