Holistic Christian education for character formation in Seventh-day Adventist Church-sponsored secondary schools in Nyamira County, Kenya
Nyabwari, Bernard Gechiko
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This study examined holistic Christian education for character formation in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church-sponsored secondary schools in Nyamira County. Specifically, it explored the church’s holistic Christian education curriculum, assessed its implementation strategies and examined challenges faced in its implementation. The study employed a descriptive research design. Data were collected from Ekerenyo, Nyamira, Borabu, Rigoma and Marani Sub-Counties which constitute the Nyamira Conference (NC) of the SDA church. Questionnaires, oral interviews, focus group discussions, participant observations and analysis of documents from libraries were used to collect data. A total of 974 questionnaires and 119 respondents interviewed were obtained from the 51 sampled schools. The overall data were collected, analyzed, interpreted and discussed in the light of Miller’s (1998) Holistic Curriculum Theory which suggests six competencies which test holistic education. Research findings revealed that the SDA church offered the holistic Christian education which sought to produce balanced students. Further, it was established that the government of Kenya (GoK) in 1968 directed the Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum to offer technical education which was opposed by the missionary churches, claiming that it was not holistic. Consequently, the GoK gave the Church the role of sponsor with permission to uphold their beliefs and programmes in the schools alongside the MoE curriculum. The SDA church was one of the churches in Kenya which took management of schools as the sponsor. The NC had 68 sponsored secondary schools. In the schools, the church implemented her educational curriculum through six main approaches. The first approach was the spiritual character formation. To form the students’ spiritual character, Bible study, Sabbath-school, mid-week prayer, week of prayer and annual camp meeting programmes took precedence. Second, was the physical character formation. Activities such as work programme, manual work, nature walk and physical activities and games were offered to enhance physical competencies. Third, emotional character formation. Adventist Youth Society, community service, outreach Sabbaths and student rallies programmes developed students emotionally. Fourth, intellectual character formation. Programmes which augmented intellectual competencies included student choir, Bible drills, home health education, arts, crafts, design, creative writing and debating. Fifth, social character formation. Interactive programmes such as sharing talents and skills, students’ camporees, pathfinder clubs and inter-house tournaments furnished students with proficiencies for social fitness. Finally, moral character formation. For students to achieve the moral competencies the schools upheld human reproductive health and safety education, responsiveness of the consequences of female circumcision, gender awareness and equality programmes. In spite of the NC provision of holistic Christian education curriculum ills were exposed which indicated that the objectives of the holistic Christian education curriculum were not fully accomplished. The study established that seminars on the relevance of holistic education were missing, schools did not allocate enough funds for the programmes, there were pressure from the public curriculum, most programmes were not implemented and the chaplains to interpret the church’s holistic education curriculum were not professionally trained. Recommendations were made to the government, churches and schools to ensure that holistic Christian education was fully implemented in order to reduce the ills in schools.