Public Participation over dress code A Must;Methodist and Eldoret Universities told


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By Hubzmedia Reporter.


Kenya National Civil Society Centre (KNCSC) has called  on authorities at the Kenya

Methodist University (KEMU) and the University of Eldoret to withdraw dress codes

they imposed on students recently in order to pave the way for participation of the

learners in coming up with a new set of codes if the authorities strongly feel that such

dress codes are necessary in the first place.


On January 5, 2023, Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) announced a code of what

the private university described as “appropriate dressing” for students in all its

campuses. The university has since defended its action on grounds that the

institution is sponsored by the Methodist Church, despite the fact that its students

subscribe to diverse religious beliefs and persuasions.


According to a memo by KEMU University’s Dean of Students, Dr. Esther Mbaabu,

female students should not wear tops exposing their belly, navel or backs while the

skirts must be below the knee. Dresses and blouses with necklines running down

more than 4 inches, body-tight trousers, and those made of see-through fabrics, or

hanging above the knee line, or whose slits are above the knee line are also

inappropriate and, therefore, prohibited by the university.


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At the Kenya Methodist University, male students are not supposed to have

dreadlocks, plaited hair, earrings or walk around with their shirts untucked or

exposing their chests.



At the State University of Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, several students were denied

entry on January 23, 2023 for “not dressing appropriately” in compliance with

a dressing code that the majority of them did not seem to know anything about.



In the same memo through which the University of Eldoret introduced the said dress code,

the university authorities warned the students of severe disciplinary action for

wearing what the authorities unilaterally identified and labeled as inappropriate



And just as it had happened earlier at the Kenya Methodist University, mini-

skirts are among the banned attires for female learners at the University of Eldoret,

while male students with ragged or ripped trousers will not access the institution’s

lecture halls, library and other amenities.


KNCSC’s concern is not so much about the introduction of dress codes per see as it

is about the authoritarian manner in which the codes are being imposed on the

affected learners. The authorities are also demanding blind obedience without any

regard to the input and views of the students as required under Article 10 of the

Constitution on public participation.




Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya spells out human dignity, equality, human

rights, non-discrimination, protection of the marginalized, the rule of law, democracy

and participation of the people among other National Values and Principles of

Governance that bind all State organs, State officers, public officers and “all persons

whenever any of them applies or interprets the Constitution; enacts, applies or

interprets any law; or makes or implements public policy decisions”.



The dress codes being imposed at the universities affect large segments of the

Kenyan population and, therefore, fall within the category of public policy decisions.


For this reason, KNCSC calls on the authorities to ensure that their formulation and

Implementation are informed by a process of thoughtful, intentional and meaningful

participation of students who will be most affected by their enforcement.


Suba Churchill, Executive Director

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