After a school uniform protest resulted in the suspension of 12 students at Rwathia secondary in Kenya, Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo came out in defense of the students, who were demanding the right to wear miniskirts to school. The minister said:
I am in total agreement with them [students]. Why do you dress a schoolgirl like a nun? These girls do not want to be nuns; they want to be modern like Mutula!
The position taken by the minister has sparked off a heated online and offline debate involving politicians, church leaders and ordinary citizens. Reacting to Kilonzo's statement, Rcenter writes:
When i was in High school, We used to get uniform skirts sooo long, you had to step on them while walking and sometimes even fall down…Recently, there has been a debate over Honorable Mutula's response regarding wearing of short skirts after a school goes on strike after their head teacher refused them to!! I think Most people in Kenya just don’t like change!!! They like to remain primitive and old fashioned, and for this reason, they are dragging the progress of other people who want to move forward. In my opinion, I think that the skirts should not be too long and not to short. Allow them to be at least in level with the knees…That’s not too bad is it???
Kenya Idiot has a word of advice for the minister:
A word to the wise: to save oneself the embarrassment and blush of having to apologize or even worse backtrack don’t say anything at all, or if you do make statements be they public or private be prepared to stand by those words; mean what you say and say only what you mean knowing come whatever may you will never need to take your words back.
Several Kenyans have joined the miniskirt debate by adding their comments on Capita FM article under the title ‘Let schoolgirls wear miniskirts – Mutula’:
“The Minister has lost touch with reality,” says Nyambush:
The Minister has lost touch with reality. What kind of displine are we imparting on the youth if they are to wear miniskirts? By the time they finish high school, they will be in streets in bikinis and maybe swim-suits! These are young minds whose concentration ought to be in education not the attire less all distractions known to man.. Unless you want us to start throwing the school morals to the gallows, then spare our children this! A student is a student and should remain thus till they are in employment to join the working class. By then they will understand better the implications of what they wear when, where, for which occasion etc.
Sure. Let them wear mini skirts, sag pants, style their hair, make up, and all these other things that constitute a modern education.
Jonathanmutie asks, “What is the standard length of a miniskirt, Mr minister?”:
Mutula has been fearless, forthright and dead right most of the time, but what he said about schools girls and miniskirts barely conceals recklessness. What is the standard length of a miniskirt, Mr minister? And what value can this thing add to the learning process?
Perepepe advises the minister with a light touch:
I think bikinis will be more appropriate in areas that are sunny…I mean all students need to do is learn their subjects, isn't it Mutula? I mean what is the big fuss, if you don't like anything just threaten to strike and the Ministry of Education will form a task force to look into your grievances…even this issue of disciplining students is it really constitutional? I mean, why not talk and plead with students to comply with directives….in fact directives is a harsh word and might be against the bill of rights…let's rename “school rules and regulations” to “polite suggestions by teaching personnel”…boyfriends should be allowed visits under the provision of freedom of association and choice…
Kelly Chibueze reminds Kenyans that we are in the 21st century:
let them wear what they want to wear …we are in the 21st century for heaven sake …if end if the come out from school they are still going to wear them…look the street of Nairobi and other places they are all wearing short and stoking s .,…..
Following widespread public condemnation of his position, Kilonzo denied mentioning miniskirt in his statement. He also threatened to sue media houses that allegedly misquoted him.
Commenting on a YouTube video about his denial, TheTomahawks73 says:
Mutula Kilonzo never mentioned miniskirts, the media run and said Mini skirt for sensationalism. Sometimes behave like ostriches. Miniskirts exist in the work place and long skirts in schools have no place in our schools. Wake up and smell the coffee people!
Kenyambele does not trust the minister:
What a useless fellow…even if you don't mention the skirt by name, you were still talking about skirts when you said don't dress them like nuns! Why can't he stand by what he says! If he can turn and lie about what he said, he absolutely cant be trusted! I really dislike this fellow
Adding a new dimension to the debate, Water Minister Charity Ngilu argues that trousers be introduced to schoolgirls instead of miniskirts. She says that trousers are more appropriate for schoolgirls than miniskirts.