The Federal Government should introduce inter-religious education at all levels of education to reduce religious violence in the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said.
According to a press statement it issued, this call was made Tuesday by the president of CAN, Samson Ayokunle, in his paper ”Interreligious education and common citizenship values” delivered in Vienna, Austria at an Interfaith Seminar organised by KAICIID.
Mr. Ayokunle who traced the incessant religious riots in Nigeria to the absence of History, Civics and Inter-religious Education in schools, called on all religious groups and the government to wake up to their responsibilities in this regard if ”religious violence will become history.”
“In those days in Nigeria when we used to study history and civics in primary and secondary schools, basic knowledge of at least Christianity and Islam were taught, but today, when history is no longer taught, Inter-religious education has become more difficult,” he said.
“This to an extent may be responsible for a surge in religious violence more rampart now in Nigeria. All religious groups in Nigeria in particular and the globe in general must make concerted effort towards government’s inclusion of Inter-religious Education in the schools curricula.”
According to him, “All over the world, the current trend is that educational institutions – colleges, universities (many are not religiously affiliated!) and even certain seminaries – are actively looking for ways to respond to the issues of education in a religiously multi-faceted world.
“They seek to entrench a transformational process through which students could be educated to become global citizens with an understanding of the diversity of religious traditions and with strategies of pluralism that engage diversity in creative and productive ways. Obviously, inter-religious education is increasingly essential for equipping people to be citizens of the world.
“Therefore, from a societal as well as pedagogical points of view, all academic institutions irrespective of their theological affiliation or inclination should be obliged to foster a religious dimension to citizenship.”
Mr. Ayokunle, who is also the president, Nigerian Baptist Convention, said Interreligious education contributes effectively in the formation of ”people’s and societies’ religious identities, as well as in shaping perceptions about the other.”
”It douses the tension of stereotype or resentment against other peoples’ religion which causes distance in relationships. It increases beneficial inter-relationships and widens the student’s family network. Religiously bi-literate or educated people who know the history and theology of other religions are likely to have better grasp or understanding of world politics, history, culture and literature.
”Inter-religious Education gives students or people ample opportunities to make informed decision in adulthood of the religion they have the conviction to practice in life. Inter-religious education reduces religious conflicts and promotes mutual co-existence. Inter-religious education gives in the opportunity to see the world from more than one religious perspective and make better informed decisions,” he said amongst other factors he listed in the paper.
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