School in Trans Nzoia faces legal sanctions over religious bias against students

County Director of Education for Trans-Nzoia Pamela Akelo. She has ordered the school to return all students who were suspended as the matter is being resolved.

Accusations of violating students’ religious rights in a school in Trans-Nzoia County have escalated, with the principal now facing a legal suit for religious discrimination of students.

The school is accused of denying the Seventh Day Adventist students their freedom of worship by preventing their religious activities on Saturday.

The parents and the SDA church are demanding the immediate sacking of the principal for denying the students their basic constitutional right.

Kaosa & Company Advocates has addressed a legal letter to the school administration, alleging mistreatment of the Seventh Day Adventist students.

Dated June 5, 2024, the letter lists 25 students and their roles in the school’s religious activities.

It outlines incidents on May 25, 2024, where students gathering for worship were reportedly instructed to abandon their religious practices and attend classes instead.

Additionally, it claims that four student leaders were sent home and faced disciplinary action for refusing to comply with what the advocates argue are unconstitutional directives.

According to legal representatives of the affected students, the school’s actions violate Article 32 of the Kenya Constitution, which guarantees the right to religious freedom. They argue that compelling students to attend classes or exams on Saturdays infringes upon this constitutional right.

The advocates assert that the school’s alleged actions also violate the Education Act and circulars from the Ministry of Education, which prohibit discrimination based on religion. They highlight the psychological distress inflicted upon the students, citing intimidation tactics and mental stress resulting from the purported religious discrimination.

In their letter, Kaosa & Company Advocates stress that the school calendar, typically scheduling classes from Monday to Friday, should not be used to target students of a particular faith. They invoke various legal statutes, including the Education Act of 2013 and the Children Act of 2022, to underscore the protection of children’s rights within the educational system.

The letter concludes by warning the school administration of potential legal consequences should the alleged violations continue. It urges compliance with constitutional and legal provisions protecting religious freedom and calls for a halt to actions perceived as infringing upon the students’ rights.

The school, sponsored by the Reformed Church, has yet to publicly respond to these allegations. However, this development highlights the complex interplay of education, religion and constitutional rights within Kenya’s diverse society.

When approached for comment, the principal declined requests for her perspective on the issue. The situation prompted the intervention of Pamela Akelo, the Director of Education for Trans Nzoia County, who directed the school management to reinstate all suspended students and convened a meeting at the school to resolve the issue.

On March 4, 2022, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a directive aimed at curbing the violation of religious rights within educational institutions across Kenya. The directive, addressed to all County Directors of Education, highlighted instances where school administrators had infringed upon students’ religious rights.

These violations included prohibiting the wearing of religious attire like hijabs and turbans, forcing students to participate in religious activities against their beliefs, and coercing students into taking specific religious education subjects or denying them the opportunity to observe their religious rites and prayers.

Such actions not only contravened national legislation but also regional and international conventions, including the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which safeguards the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief, and opinion.

Furthermore, the Basic Education Act 2013 guarantees every child right to access education free from discrimination on any ground, including religion.


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By John Oroni

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