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The national religious education debate

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PHOTO: stanthonydepadua.org

PHOTO: stanthonydepadua.org

Sir: It was once said that Civics was the new subject proposed to replace Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) in Nigeria’s primary and secondary schools. The proposed name accordingly was “National and Religious Knowledge”. This is what I read in a newspaper:

“The Federal Ministry of Education’s move to reduce the workload of primary and junior secondary pupils from 20 to a maximum of 10 subjects under the nine-year basic educational curriculum was welcome in most quarters as it would align our system with international paradigms.

However, under this scheme which was developed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Christian and Islamic Religious Studies, which are separately taught, will now be merged under a compulsory subject known as Religion and National Values (RNV). Other subjects brought under the RNV include Civic Education, Social Studies, and Security Education.”

Obviously, those who developed the scheme were conscious that “Nigeria is a religious but criminal society”, as one Professor (not in my University) put it in his inaugural lecture, in 2002. But, as usual, religious predators have kicked again. They said the Bible and the Qur’an take diverse positions on various issues. Yet, one of the holy books is quoted as saying that Christians are closer to Muslims.

I read further that “Two prominent religious leaders, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, have condemned this move, calling on the Federal Government to maintain the separate teachings of these faiths to avoid unnecessary confusion and conflicts.

We remind the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians have inalienable right to religious freedom. Furthermore, the Child’s Rights Act of 2003 preserves the right of the child not to be exposed to any religion contrary to that of his parents or guardians.”

Understandably, when Christian and Muslim schools were indoctrinating African children against the religion of their parents (African Traditional Religion – ATR), there was no “Child’s Rights Act 2003”. But now that we have “Child’s Rights Act 2003”, Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) should be restricted to Christian and Muslim schools, if Nigeria is not to be a religious but unruly society. There is no shortcut to order and decorum, which societal secularity implies.

Christians and Muslims should shed their triumphalism that has been counterproductive to Nigeria’s unity, peace, and progress. Sultan and Archbishop agree today; tomorrow there will be complaint of hostility of Muslims against Christians, vice versa. Much more importantly, sacrificing Nigeria to Christianity and Islam is criminal and it is responsible for upheaval, instability, and retrogression.

Oyeniran Abioje,
Ilorin, Kwara State


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