During the 19th century Christian mission in Africa, Religious Education in schools was introduced simply as an extension of catechism classes or Sunday school. This served the purpose of conversion or grooming those already converted in the faith of the religious group or denomination in question.
This praxis deviated from the major purpose of Religious Education which is to equip pupils and students with the appropriate tools for critically assessing and dissecting religious phenomena or events. In Religious Education, pupils and students should be exposed to all religions, their histories, belief systems, and how they relate to each other.
It is here that they are taught what makes people religious. They are exposed to the psychology of religion and the relationship between religion and mental health. They are also made aware of the dangers of religious extremism and fanaticism. They are made to understand the significances and interpretations of religious arts, gestures and symbols. Adequate care is taken here to teach them the basic principles of interreligious dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
All these and more are what pupils and students should learn under Religious Education. Unfortunately, Religious Education in Africa is still at the Level of indoctrination. This lack explains why Africans hardly engage in religious discussion without ending up with fights, insults and abuses.
This lack explains too why religious charlatans and fraudsters are on the increase in the continent. I have decided therefore to be giving short lectures on Religious Education on my page every Monday for those who are interested. It is free. It will begin from the middle of February 2022.
Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu