Posted on 7th Feb 2018 06:05:16 in
Aura Adoyo wheels her father, Philip Okoth, from St. Anne's Primary School, Ahero. She accuses the school of refusing to register her for Standard Eight national exam after she failed to attend Mass. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]
A 14-year-old girl might miss sitting her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination this year for failing to attend church.
Aura Adoyo was sent away from St Anne’s Primary School, Ahero after she declined to attend church service because it conflicted with her faith.
Adoyo, a member of Jehova Witness Church, has been out of school for the past two weeks and could miss KCPE exam registration that is set to end this month.
According to her father, Phillip Okoth, Adoyo was suspended from school for not attending a compulsory Catholic Church Mass held at the school every Friday morning.
Adoyo had earlier expressed her unease with the forced Mass to her father late last year.
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Okoth said on following up the matter, he found out that over 10 children from Jehova Witness Church were facing the same problem, prompting him to join hands with their parents to try and engage the school on the matter.
In a memorandum signed by 10 parents and presented to the school on September 26, the parents expressed displeasure with the interfaith activities, which they said were affecting their children.
“We hereby direct that the children (whose names appear here) be perpetually exempted from all interfaith activities; worship of any kind, prayers, hymning, church attendance, religious instructions or discourse,” wrote the parents in the memorandum.
The memorandum prompted a board meeting which dismissed the parent’s concerns, ruling that all pupils in the school were bound by rules and regulations, which included a mandatory 30-minute Mass every Friday morning.
Two weeks ago, the school gave Adoyo two options-to either attend Friday Mass or find another school.
Despite assurances from area Ministry of Education officials, Adoyo’s father says the school has refused to register the girl for this year’s KCPE until he signs a written declaration that his daughter will be attending Mass, something that he is not ready to do.
“The issue is that there is freedom of worship and we feel there is no need for this child to be denied her right to education because her faith conflicts with that of the school,” he said.
When The Standard caught up with him yesterday, the physically disabled 60-year-old father of two was being wheeled back home by the daughter after frantically trying to access the school in vain.
“The watchman told me he had instructions not to allow me or my daughter in the school,” he said.
His daughter accused the school administration of forcing her to write a letter requesting for a transfer.
“I had insisted that I would not go for the Mass, the head teacher told me to put it in writing or leave the school,” she said.
The school’s head teacher, Sister Diana Odhuong’o, said the case was being handled by the board of management and accused Adoyo’s father of arrogance and harassment.
“When the issue came up and the parents came with the memorandum, I presented the same to the board which did not approve of it,” she said.
The school’s board chairman, Joab Odindo, said their decision was final.
“This school hosts pupils from many denominations and they respect the rules. Why should this one be special?” he said.