Daystar University
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Don’t force students to attend church, CS Machogu tells Daystar University

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The entrance to Daystar University's main campus in Athi River.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has ordered an audit into the statutes and practices of Daystar University following allegations that non-Christian students are forced to attend chapel.

The CS said that freedom of worship is guaranteed by the constitution and directed the principal secretary for Higher Education Beatrice Inyangala and the Commission for University to investigate the policies and practices of the university in two weeks.

He was responding to a question by Nyali MP Mohammed Ali when he appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Mr Machogu said the university explained that all students are admitted with full knowledge of its Christian background, philosophy and teachings, when he sought answers from the administration.

“Upon admission, students sign a code of conduct upon by which they agree to abide by the university’s Christian values and commitment to participate in the university spiritual discipline. The university has indicated that its students are by policy required to attend at least 75 per cent of all scheduled chapel services in any given semester,” Mr Machogu said.

He added that the administration of the university denied that release of students’ marks is conditional on attendance of the services.

“As a ministry, we’ve noted with concern the fact that the university policy requiring students including those who’re not Christian to attend church service is potentially a violation of the Constitution and freedom of religion and belief under Article 32, which we’ll not condone as government,” Mr Machogu said. 

In May last year, the Court of Appeal in Kisumu in a case filed by nine learners against a school ruled that compelling students to participate in interfaith activities that contradict their faith is a violation of their freedom of religion.

The learners were of the Jehovah's Witness faith but were being forced to attend Catholic Mass at the school. 

“A declaration that the school rules and regulations that provide for a mandatory 30-minute Mass every Friday morning for all children at the 1st Respondent are indirectly discriminatory, unconstitutional, and invalid,” the court ruled.

Mr Ali said that Kenyan students are free to attend any university regardless of their religious foundations.

The Speaker Moses Wetang’ula directed Mr Machogu to send officers to Daystar University to investigate the claims and appear before the Committee on Education in a fortnight, together with Mr Ali.

The chair of the committee Julius Melly is thereafter expected to table a statement on their deliberations.