Religious clerics of both the Islamic and Christian faiths have made their stance known on the recent move by the Federal Ministry of Education to merge the Christian and Islamic Religious Studies, which are separately taught, under a compulsory subject known as Religion and National Values (RNV).
This religious studies scheme designed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), is aimed at aligning our educational system with international paradigms, and reducing the workload of primary and junior secondary pupils from 20 to a maximum of ten subjects under the nine-year basic educational curriculum.
Though this development was welcomed in most quarters, two prominent religious leaders, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, have however condemned this move, calling on the Federal Government to maintain the separate teachings of these faiths to avoid unnecessary confusion and conflicts.
These religious clerics condemn the surreptitious moves to impose the preferred faith of some adherents on the rest, and called on those pushing this “unholy” and explosive agenda to think of the grave consequences they could pose to the unity and stability of Nigeria. They have called for religious studies to remain separate.
Under this new compulsory RNV are grouped other subjects like the Civic Education, Social Studies, and Security Education. One of the most objectionable aspects of the RNV is that it forces Christian children to memorize and recite the Qur’an while Muslim children are made to study Biblical texts even in predominantly Muslim areas where exposure to Christianity is strictly forbidden in Nigeria. It also encourages children to disobey their parents if they forbid them to follow Allah.
These clerics question the prospects of successfully portraying the persons, significance and teachings of Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christian faith and Prophet Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, to our children in a way that will not cause religious conflicts in the country.
Noting that the Bible and the Qur’an are not on the same page on major issues about man in this world and hereafter, they also bring to mind that a major source of the conflicts between adherents of the two religions around the world for nearly two thousand years have been that they do not have a unified viewpoint on the places of these two teachings.
Further citing the Child’s rights Act of 2003 which preserves the right of the child not to be exposed to any religion contrary to that of his parents or guardians, the clerics describe the RNV as a vain and reckless attempt to “harmonize” Christianity and Islam, which is as impossible as mixing water with oil.
They therefore reminded the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians have inalienable right to religious freedom adding that it is unconstitutional, unpatriotic and unwarranted and they are vehemently opposed to it.