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No. 42 • January - June 2006 • Page 127
 
 
 
 •  Initiatives
 

Nairobi (Kenya) -- Teachers' Enrichment Program

Kenya has more than eight million school-age children. For the 250,000 teachers registered in the Teachers Service Commission, the task confronting them is not an easy one.

Since 2002, Strathmore University, through its Humanities Institute, has been offering three-day courses for teachers. The goal is to improve the self-esteem of teaching professionals and help foster a high human and moral level in the schools. The courses include sessions on specific virtues and on the need for parents to take an active role in the education of their children, as well as joint discussions aimed at drawing up a future code of ethics for teachers.

These courses, organized in April and August during school vacations, are held both in Strathmore and in the schools. Upon returning to their schools, many teachers have taken the initiative to get their classrooms painted or recreation areas cleaned up. Many of them also try to meet with the children’s parents and explain the importance of assisting the school’s efforts.

From March 7 to 9, at the request of the Bishops’ Conference of Kenya, Strathmore University organized a seminar for diocesan secretaries of education. Twenty-three attended, of whom 14 were priests. The seminar took place at the Savelberg Retreat Centre. David Siele, Director of Higher Education for the Ministry of Education, gave the inaugural address. Archbishop John Njue, president of the educational commission for the Bishops’ Conference, celebrated Mass for those attending. In his homily he emphasized the importance of ensuring that the schools run by the Church provide a rigorous and complete education. The Catholic Church runs or sponsors more than half the high schools in Kenya, and the diocesan secretaries of education coordinate the work of these schools, of whose governing boards they form part.

Professor John Odhiambo, Vice-Chancellor of Strathmore University, spoke about the importance of fostering virtues in the family and in the school. “Parents should give their children suitable teaching from an early age,” he said. “Teaching chastity as a subject and not a virtue can deform children. Fostering a culture of immediate pleasure does not lead to happiness. We have to guard against that falsehood.”

Participants published a document with 35 resolutions, including such recommendations as facilitating the reception of the sacraments in the school, reintroducing traditional prayers, and assisting the formation of Catholic teachers so that children in turn receive solid doctrine.

At the end of the seminar the group visited Strathmore University and the priests concelebrated Holy Mass with the University chaplains.


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