REPUBLIC OF KENYA
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
REMARKS BY DR. FRED MATIANGI, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, DURING THE CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS HEADTEACHERRS AND DIRECTORS CONFERENCE HELD, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN AFRICA ON WEDNESDAY 8TH MARCH, 2017 AT 8:00 AM
Chairman of the Commission for Education
Directors of Catholic Private Schools
Principals and Head Teachers present
All distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to be here today during this important occasion of your Catholic Private Educational Institutions Head teachers and Directors Conference. I applaud your commitment to enhancing education and instilling spiritual and moral values in our children in all levels of your academic institutions. The theme of this conference, character formation, a key responsibility for school managers, church and state collaboration is core to producing citizens and leaders of integrity that are highly valuable in our generation today.
Allow me to start my address by pointing out that, since independence, the government has always recognized education not only as a basic human right, but also as a powerful tool for human resource development that should be geared towards ensuring provision of equitable services to all citizens. Our education system should produce students of high moral integrity who are honest, and conduct themselves in an ethical manner. I am aware that in busy school day, finding time for building character development in our students can be a challenge. However, the school being the first social structure the child encounters after getting out of the home environment and noting, that he/she spends a great deal of time in school, it remains to be the institution that provides an excellent opportunity for character-building and moderation.
Ladies and gentlemen, the school is not just about learning concepts and gaining academic excellence but it is also a place where a foundation can be built for becoming upstanding adults. Every school should set a tone of respect, honesty and genuine kindness for all students. Whether they like it or not, teachers are role models for students and can provide examples of good character role models every day in their classroom interactions with students. Students notice what teachers, do, say, or what they tolerate, and how they handle challenges. This is critical because in a school environment most learning take place through hidden curriculum. Thus, a school provides an excellent opportunity for character-building whether formally or informally and ultimately the school managers must be in touch with what happens within students’ body. Towards this end, school managers, principals, teachers, and church leaders have a big role to play to ensure that whatever they do and say as well as teach, leave a positive impact on the students, who will be drivers of the national agenda tomorrow.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is worth noting that religious practice is a fundamental ingredient of personality development because it does not only influence the life that now is, but also the life that is to come- eternal life where we shall spend our eternity. It is therefore incumbent upon me to express my heartfelt and sincere gratitude to the Catholic Church for their commitment to improve the spiritual guidance of students in their institutions. The importance of Godliness cannot be over emphasized given the rampant cases of suicide being reported in the daily press of people still in the public service and other sectors of the economy who find life not worthy living and thus end up committing suicide. Godly principles reminder us that there is more to life than acquisition of material properties and this aspect is provided by living a life that puts reverence of God into perspective. Toward this end it is incumbent upon teachers, pastors, and priests to ensure that Godly principles are in calculated in the learning process.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me reiterate that Kenya Government recognizes that without a good working partnership in education with religious bodies it would be difficult to help students disentangle themselves from the web of global culture that tends to worship materialism, pleasure and personality cult in which the youth adopt values that increasingly distances themselves from development of godly values. Education that encompasses the development of the whole person will ensure that our heavy investment in attainment of access, equity, quality and relevance in education will greatly be enhanced.
Ladies and gentlemen, to be able to arrive at the desired character attributes in our students, we need to establish pillars of character good character formation in our institutions of learning and in this process, building partnerships is critical and this is where the role of the church in instilling godly principles to the young minds is highly valued.
It has been said that character can be measured by what one would do if no one were looking. True character is instilled at a deep level so that positive behavior is automatic. The Josephson Institute of Ethics defines the main pillars of character formation as trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, caring, fairness and citizenship. Courage, diligence, and integrity are also sometimes included.
It would be appropriate for a school to assign creative writing projects on these topics to enable them to write and debate them, and find out what they think and define virtues such as trustworthiness, respect, citizenship or integrity. The following can source of good pillars to enhance character formation in our learning Institutions.
- School rules: It is our responsibility as the teacher and school managers to set appropriate rules for classroom behavior. Be clear about the ground rules that you set for your learners by specifying what you expect to see from your students, and what is unacceptable. Discuss the rules with the students, as well as the character traits that are embodied and built by each rule. Be sure to be a good example yourself as well. Be sure to reinforce good behavior and character through praise or a system of rewards.
- Encourage good role models: Students choose role models whether a teacher or adult helps them or not. We need to make an effort to point out positive character role models in history, literature, science and the arts. We need to deliberately teach about people that our students can emulate. Ask students to describe, assess and match the traits and behaviors of these people that are commendable. Talk about the behavior of current world leaders, sports figures and celebrities as well. Ask students if a person’s words match their actions. Discuss how life is improved with good character traits.
- Respect: The classroom should be firmly established on a foundation of respect. Self-respect and respect for others are the basis of all other positive character traits. Negativity and abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, and should be met with appropriate consequences. Create anti-bullying campaigns and extol the virtues of treating all classmates with respect and dignity. Bullying in our time should be seen as outdated and should not even be named in our schools.
- Social Responsibility: A caring attitude can be encouraged by having a zero-tolerance policy on name-calling and character assaults or bullying. Make sure that all students are included in activities. Ensure students are applauded for acts of kindness and generosity towards each other, particularly those with challenges.
- Volunteerism: We need to take time in classroom to highlight the virtues and importance of volunteerism. Start volunteer programs in your classroom and school. Allow students to read or tutor younger children, assist in the computer lab, assist with reading comprehension or provide support for students recovering from an illness or injury. This encourages the culture of helping less fortunate in society and is a need that is found in all human societies. This has the effect of reducing tendencies for selfishness.
- Commitment to the Divine Authority: It is of paramount interest to embrace the importance of striking a balance between academic excellence and the knowledge of the divine authority because it is apparent that spiritual maturity contributes greatly to increased performance in schools. It is therefore incumbent upon all actors involved in education whether principals, state agencies, pastors and priests to emulate our Lord Jesus Christ in their service to humanity so that they can become good role models for the students to emulate. In this respect, we shall be able to fulfill the theme of this conference- character formation, a key responsibility for school managers, church and state collaboration.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I come to the conclusion of my address, I wish once again to reiterate our commitment of partnering with you not only in providing quality education to our learners but also in ensuring that the learners acquire attributes that help realize the importance of God in their current and future life. Now more than ever before, our people have tremendous confidence in the role education plays in their lives but they should also realize that knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom. We must therefore collaborate and not blame each other when shortcomings occur. I take this opportunity to thank you for your continued partnership in the ongoing curriculum reform, which has identified ethics and values as a key learning component.
As a country, we cannot take for granted our children who are our posterity and resources, for history will judge us harshly if the products from education system will be devoid of good character morals and fail to unleash their full potential in the service to God and humanity. It is now my pleasure to thank you for giving an opportunity to participate and grace this very important assembly.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!!