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THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS AND MORAL EDUCATION IN POST-PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM TOWARDS THE QUEST TO EDUCATE FOR TOMORROW:

 

BEING AN ADDRESS PRESENTED AT THE 11TH GRADUATION CEREMONY OF THE ADVENTIST SECONDARY TECHINICAL COLLEGE, OWERRINTA, ABIA STATE

AUGUST 16, 2009

By

Pastor Sampson M. Nwaomah, Ph.D

Associate Professor of New Testament and Head of Department of Religious Studies,

Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria.

 

THE CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF MANAGEMENT OFASTEC,       

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD

THE PRINCIPAL

THE VICE PRINCIPALS AND OTHER SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

PARENTS OF THE GRADUANDS

IMVITED GUESTS

DEAR GRADUANDS

GENTLEMEN AND LADIES OF THE PRESS,

ALL OTHER PROTOCOLS RECOGNIZED AND EXTENDED

 

1.0.            INTRODUCTION

I feel honored and at the same elated by the invitation extended to me to deliver the 11th Graduation address of the Adventist Secondary Technical College (ASTEC), Owerrinta, an illustrious institution known for  its unique and  enviable history of wholistic development. In the invitation letter extended to me, the theme of this graduation was boldly written: “Educating for Tomorrow.” To me this was a very noble theme and at the same thing challenging at an era when the value of education is gradually depreciating and the type of  education generally offered today,  at all levels of education------primary, post-primary and tertiary---hardly considers the whole person even though we talk much about development of the head the hand and the heart.

 

Therefore in consideration of the theme of this 11th graduation ceremony, I have settled to speak on the topic: “The Role of Religious and Moral Education in Post-Primary School Curriculum towards the Quest to Educate for Tomorrow.”

 

1.1 Conceptual Clarifications:

i)        Religious and Moral Education: the process or medium in which pupils are exposed to the knowledge of both good and evil and are also directed to accept and follow all that is good and reject all that is evil for the good of human society,

ii)      Curriculum: List of courses or subjects to be taught in schools

iii)     Education:  The process of training a person to acquire the appropriate, knowledge,  skills and character that equips him/her to function optimally for his and societal benefit.

iv)     Tomorrow: All the existence of the future available to man here on earth and the world to come.

 

2.0 Seventh-day Adventist Philosophy of Education

 

Education in its broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another through institutions.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education accessed August 12, 2009). Maduabum (1992) in Georgewill (2006) defined education as a process by which an individual gains knowledge or insight, develops right type of attitudes, skills and values. For Georgewill education is simply the development of the totality of man and the natural world, the first world of man. Her definition entails that through education, man develops mentally, physically, morally and spiritually and subsequently gains knowledge and skills with which he is able to develop the natural world of plants and animals, of soils, air and water which…. In the process of man developing the natural world, he fashioned out what is now known as the second world of social institutions and artifacts which he has built for him-self using his tools, engines, science and his dreams. This second world is obedient to human directives and purposes and its building and developments could have not been possible without education (Georgewill 2006).

But in understanding the true role of education, it is significant to consider the philosophy of education espoused by the Seventh-day Adventist church, the proprietors of ASTEC. The Seventh-day Adventist philosophy of education views the work of education as wholistic. One of its frontline leaders opines:

 To understand what is comprehended in the work of

 education, we need to consider both the nature of man

 and the purpose of God in creating him. We need consider

 also the change in man’s condition through the coming in

 of a knowledge of evil, and God’s plan for still fulfilling

 His glorious purpose in education of the human race

(White, 1923a:15,16).

                                   

             She argues further that the object of education is

    to restore in  man the image of his maker. To bring him

    back to  perfection in which he was created, to promote

    the development of body, mind, and  soul, that the divine

    purpose in his creation might be realized (ibid emphasis mine).

           

In other words education is in the work of human redemption, and if properly understood, serves as a restoration tool as its ultimate aim. Succinctly put:

                           

                            Education in its broadest sense, is a means of restoring

                            human beings to their original relationship with God.

                            Working together, homes, schools and churches cooperate

With divine agencies in preparing learners for responsible

citizenship in this world and in the world to come( GC

Working Policy, 2007-2008: 242 emphasis mine).

 

These statements were made in the context of a fundamental thesis on the role of educational institutions with a religious affiliation by one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She opines:

 

It is the boast of the present age that never before did men

possess so great facilities for the acquirement of knowledge,

                        or manifest so general an interest in education. Yet despite

 this vaunted progress, there exists an unparalleled spirit of

 insubordination and recklessness in the rising generation;

 mental and moral degeneracy are well-nigh universal.

Popular education does not remedy the evil. The lax discipline

 in many institutions of learning has nearly destroyed their

            usefulness, and in some cases rendered them a curse rather

 than a blessing. This fact has been seen and deplored, and

 earnest efforts have been made to remedy the defects

 in our educational system. There is urgent need of schools in

 which the youth may be trained to habits of self-control,

 application, and self-reliance, of respect for superiors and

 reverence for God. With such training, we might hope to see the

                        young prepared to honor their Creator and to bless their fellow

 men.  (White, 1923b:64 emphasis mine.)

  

Thus true education would take seriously religious and moral education in educating the youth for tomorrow.

3.0 THE NIGERIAN SITUATION AND THE NEED FOR RELIGIOUS AND MORAL EDUCATION

A quick look at the Nigerian society today reveals the maniac of immorality in various ways such as dishonesty, greed, injustice, selfishness, avarice, sexual promiscuity, secret cult activities, to mention but a few. In an attempt to offer explanation for this unfortunate situation, Bello in Nwaomah (Nwaomah, 1998:9) states: “the main causes of these immoral behavior is the undue reverence the society places on material wealth and loss of touch with our roots.” Similarly, Eluwa in Nwaomah (Nwaomah, 1998:10) argues: “the lack of moral and ethical foundation remained the greatest factor responsible for the misbehavior of people, both old and young.” 

Arising from the above situation, it is appropriate to suggest that that one of the societal sectors from which the moral re-armament should start is the school. This is because, the school as one our social institutions, helps in grooming of the future leaders of the society. The Nation’s educational objectives agree with this as well. It states:

 

In consequence, the quality of instruction at all levels has to be oriented

towards inculcating the following values: moral and spiritual values in

 interpersonal and human relations, the inculcating of the right type of

 values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian

 society(National Policy on Education (1977 revised 1981 cited in

Nwaomah, 1998:12).

 

This worthy objective, no doubt reflects in the introduction of Religious and Moral Education, otherwise called Christian Religious Knowledge or Christian Religious Studies in the post-secondary school curriculum.

The first official pronouncement on the importance of Religious and Moral Education in the provision of a sound education seem to have been made in 1922. According to Igwe cited in Nwaomah (1998:13), the Phelps-Stokes first report on education in West, South, and Equatorial Africa recommended among other things that: “in all schools religious instructions was to be accorded a pride of place and regarded as fundamental to the development of sound education.”

4.0 OBJECTIVES OF RELIGIOIUS AND MORAL EDUCATION

According to Purpel and Ryan (Nwaomah, 1998: 13-14) there are at least four major objectives or roles of Religious and Moral Education in school’s curriculum:

i)        To develop moral responsibility and sound ethical and moral behavior

ii)       To develop the student’s capacity to discipline himself to work, study and play constructively

iii)     To develop a moral and ethical sense of values, goal and process of free society and

iv)     To develop standards of personal character and ideas, i.e. to develop morally autonomous individuals who can make up their minds on matters of moral principles rather than being mere consumers of moral dicta

            In his part, Wilson cited in Nwaomah (1998: 14-15) adds:

to wean them (students) away from false methodologies and standards

 like reliance on the peer group, on authority or anti-authorities of also ego—

ideas, e.t.c, in an age of moral vacuum or anti-authoritarian trend, anxiety,

neurosis, alienation, drift and a sense of being lost. Religion therefore provides

 something to hang on to.

 

Consequently, one of the major roles of Religious and Moral Education in the Nigerian secondary school curriculum is that of the moral development of the students. And the only subject that could satisfy this is Christian Religious Education.

But the position it is given in the post-primary curriculum leaves much to be desired. It is classified as an optional subject thus leaving the student depending on his biases or future career aspirations and/or prospects to choose or neglect its offering. In most cases, only very few of the Senior Secondary School students choose to offer it. Thus the majority of the students are left without Religious and Moral Education during their last but critical three years in post-primary. It is also instructive to mention that the three years of the senior post-primary education fall within the adolescent period, an age associated with “experimentation, exploration, challenge of the status quo, assertiveness, freedom/independence desire, pleasure possessed and rebellion.” (Ikonne, 2009).  The adolescent period being an age of transition to young adulthood, the increasing immoral behavior among this group coupled with moral weakness rampant in several homes and of this critical age thus requires adequate teaching and guide on moral values.

 

It is therefore my opinion that making Religious and Moral Education optional at the senior secondary level implies making morality optional as well. On the other hand, if Religious and Moral Education is to be accorded a pride of place and regarded as fundamental to the development of sound education in conformity to the recommendation of Phelp-Stokes report on education in 1922, then there seems to be no alternative to listing it as a core and compulsory subject in the same way as English Language and Mathematics are listed in the senior secondary school curriculum.

 5.0 CONCLUSION

There is no doubt that our society today needs the type of education that prepares the learners not only for excellence in their intellectual development and demonstration of skills. It is very needful that learners are morally equipped to offer useful and purposeful services to themselves, the nation and of course live in consciences of the greater and ultimate accountability that would be required of God. Thus, in developing the intellects and the horning of the skills of learners, religious and moral education becomes and imperative and must been seen so in our educational curricula, especially at the post-primary school level.

As I conclude, I want to once again congratulate the graduates of today but I challenge you that the training you have received in these six years should reflect in your future academic pursuit and your entire life-span. Bravo.

REFERENCES

“Education”  in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education accessed August 12, 2009

Georgewill, Justina Wada “Biology Education: The Science for Knowledge of Life Intricacies and improvement of Educational system.” Accessed from

 http://www.rsust.edu.ng/BIOLOGY%20EDUCATION.htm, August 12, 2009.

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church Working Policy. (2007-2008).

            Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association

Ikonne, Chiemela N. The Role of Faculty and Staff in Adventist High Education, paper presented at the Babcock University 50th Anniversary Integration of Faith and Learning Worskhop, August 11, 2009.

Nwaomah, Sampson M. “The Role of Religious and Moral Education in Post-Primary Schools in Ahoada-

East Local Government Area of Rivers state. Unpublished PGDE Project, Institute of Education University of Port Harcourt, 1998.

 

White, Ellen G. (1923a). Education, Nashville, Tennessee: Southern Pacific Press

            Association.

 

__________ (1923b). Fundamentals of Christian Education. Washington D. C. 

            Review and Herald Publishing Association.

 

 
 
 
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