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Ministry to rethink introduction of biblical studies

Mon, 21 September 2015 21:40
by Donald Matthys

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MEAC) will soon probe the possibilities of introducing biblical studies in the schools curriculum.

According to findings from the Education Act 16 of 2000 which is currently under review parents from many regions indicated that they want biblical study to be reintroduced.

The reintroduction of biblical studies as a subject on its own was turned down by the previous Minister of Education Dr. David Namwandi as it contradicts with the Namibian constitution.

According to the preamble of the constitution of the Republic of Namibia is a democratic secular state, whereby a Namibia significances to be officially neutral on matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.

“The issue on the reintroduction of biblical study in the current education system is a very sensitive issue and will only be discussed after we are done with consultations. We are engaging in talks so on the matter currently,” Sanet Steenkamp, Permanent Secretary of MEAC said.

Senior official from the Ministry who is involved in the review of the Education act, Hileni Amukena said parents from across the regions they have visited have called for the reintroduction of the education act.

“According to the Education Act under section 40, a learner at a state school or hostel has the right to practise any religion which is not against public policy and to manifest such practice without fear or intimidation from anybody at the school or hostel,” she said.

However, Amukena said a distinction should be made between biblical study and religious and moral education.

”State schools can teach religious and moral education according to the act with the inclusion of all religions that are not against the local government laws,” she said adding that bible study is not yet permitted.

The re-introduction of Biblical studies would impose the Christian religion on other persons living in Namibia who are not Christians, or do not know or recognise the existence of God or the Bible and this would result in the contravention of the Constitution which guarantees every person the right to practice, profess, maintain and promote other religions.

Teaching bible studies in schools will violate Article 1 (1) and Article 21 (b) (c) of the Namibian constitution and it will not be in favour to those who do not believe in any religion.

In 2013 the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) has been pushing for the re- introduction of religious education, considering the fact 90% of the country is regarded as Christians.

Namibia did away with bible studies at schools after it gained independence, however there have been calls from different parts of the country urging government to reintroduce religion in public schools to restore moral values.

Claims have aroused that ever since schools have been scrapped from bible studies, the country has experienced a significant increase in youth-related crimes.

Biblical study is not being taught currently at University level because it has not being introduced as a school subject, The University of Namibia (UNAM) has confirmed.