I woke up this morning to the news that children will soon start to be taught atheism, secularism, humanism and agnosticism in schools. A recent report issued by the Commission on Religious Education concluded that the subject should be renamed Religion and Worldviews.
Breathe, I told myself. This is a development hitting very close to my heart. How will one not be seen to be a hypocrite if one claims to be liberal and to, at the same time, be an advocate for Education? Amongst the things I am very passionate about is Education. The fact that learning is life. The act of teaching and of being taught. And as Nelson Mandela once said,
“Education is the most powerful tool with which you can change the world”.
Additionally, the Wikipedia definition for education says that “Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits”. If this is the case, then surely the broadening of minds and the awareness of all aspects of our diverse society should be part of formal learning.
However, I welcome this new development with the same anxiety as the announcement of the introduction of sexual education and LGBT awareness in the classrooms. Yes, we live in a diverse society. Yes, we should be tolerant of other views and people’s choices. And yes, we should teach our children these values.
But should my children be taught these “alternate” views and choices in the classroom by a “teacher”? How much or how little of it should be taught? What age is appropriate to teach them? Who decides what the teaching objectives and the curriculum will include? And to what end are they being taught? I have an endless list of questions. But then I stop, because I realise it makes me a hypocrite. To be so passionate about teaching and learning but to be so resistant to the acquisition of some forms of knowledge. However, the society I grew up in was a society very different from today’s. Which brings me back to why I started to write this piece.
Now more than ever, is when we need our children to be taught Religion and Faith which preaches dignity and responsibility of all in human society as well as relationships of love and respect and reciprocity even amidst differences.
I believe education is sometimes exploited as an avenue to advance government’s agenda. To what extent will education be used to confuse our children and aim to take them away from faith? In an already slim curriculum where just the bare minimum is taught, will the dilution of religious studies with other non-religious views not mean that faith education itself is gradually being pushed out of schools?
Ayobola Peller – PEP Executive