FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

School ordered to readmit suspended SDA students

They sued administration for kicking them out after they refused to take exams on Saturday

In Summary

• Five students say school denied them their constitutional freedom of worship

• But principal says students have been adhering to school rules since admission

Lawyer Eliud Miyienda talks with parents of the students at the High Court in Eldoret
NO WORK ON SABBATH: Lawyer Eliud Miyienda talks with parents of the students at the High Court in Eldoret
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

A court has ordered Chebisaas Boys High School in Eldoret to readmit five SDA students suspended for refusing to sit for exams on Saturday, their worship day.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church faithful, through their parents, filed a suit at the Eldoret High Court terming the suspension a violation of their constitutional freedom of worship.

The students were suspended on July 6.

Justice Stephen Ginthinji directed that they are re-admitted when the schools open on September 2 pending the hearing and determination of their case. 

“We agreed that the students should not miss their classes as we deal with the case in court,” their lawyer Eliud Miyienda said when the case came up for mention on Wednesday. 

He said the students had already lost out the whole of July terming as noble the decision to allow them back to class pending the hearing of the case.

Miyienda argued the issue in contention was if the students were wrong to refuse to attend to school matters on their sabbath day as per the SDA church and if they should have been suspended.

He said according to church rules, the day is exclusively for worship. 

One of the parents, Irene Ng'etich, said the school was wrong to deny the students their right to worship on grounds of indiscipline.

“When the students exercise their constitutional right to worship that does not amount to indiscipline but it goes towards building good character,” she argued.

Attending class and sitting for examinations are considered as work, she said. 

However, principal Samwel Ng’ang'a has filed a response defending the decision to suspend the students.

Ng'ang'a said although the school was sponsored by the African Inland Church, it admitted students from all denominations, being a public school.

He argues that before the Form 3 students were admitted, they signed commitments to adhere to all school regulations along with their parents. "They had all along been doing so only to change their hearts suddenly.

“They cannot now seek to be exempted from school regulations because that would amount to preferential treatment and discrimination and it would also create disharmony and make it difficult to run the school,” Ng'ang'a said through lawyer Zephania Yego.

Edited by R.Wamochie