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THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION EDUCATION IN PROMOTING PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE AMONG STUDENTS

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ABSTRACT

The research work investigated the role of Christian Religion Education in promoting peaceful co-existence among students in Barkin Ladi LGA. The sample size of the study comprised of students and 20 teachers, giving a total of 100 respondents who were selected through a stratified random sampling technique. The cross sectional survey design was adopted for the study. Findings obtained shows that the study area were lack of forgiveness, unemployment, religious fanaticism, hatred, poverty and bias reporting by the mass media. Effects of conflict were high rate of school dropout, loss of live and properties, lack of mutual trust and destruction of school building. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: Government should promote peace, reconciliation and tolerance through education, curriculum planners should see the need for the introduction of a course of study on peaceful co-existence in schools, religious leaders should lay emphasis on teaching their members on the dignity of human life and parents should endeavour to give their children adequate moral training.


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Peaceful co-existence is an indispensable ingredient that helps in the promotion of growth and development in a society. Peace is very essential for the progress of every society. Abindu (2002) underlined that the need of peaceful co-existence and conflict prevention movement in the society, start from the home with the examination of how children socialize and how they are indoctrinated. Peace is the actions that build bridges across social barrier, create harmony and promote peaceful co-existence and development. Peace promote social; and economic stability and so development will follow naturally, and that peaceful co-existence promotes freedom of worship of different religious groups, and creates room for the spread of one’s faith.

Daudu (2005), added that where there is peaceful co-existence, there is integration among people of different religions and tribal backgrounds. Peace in the society bring about good management which help in doing efficient work and promote the best use of resources.

Barkin Ladi has been a peaceful local area in the state and it has many ethnic communities spread across its districts for commercial purposes, it has attracted both, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba an Igbos. Unfortunately, the 2001 crises, both indigenes, residents, national and international communities where disappointed when the peaceful co-existence in the local area was taken over by massive killings and unwanted destruction of properties. These experiences led to mutual suspicion, lack of trust for each other to the extent that settlement in the area is now along religious lines.

The persistent conflict in the area has affected all spheres of lives, education, economic, social and otherwise. School children and the teachers are massacred, school buildings were burnt down, churches and Mosques were also set a blaze. The generation of children are growing up in an environment that is characterized with extreme violence and fear. Tank (2008), described the present situation in the area as an uneasy calm, or negative peace where the youths have become a depot from which to recruit merchants who unleash mayhem in the society. Hence the need to catch them young through Christian religion education and mould their character positively.

For the sake of peaceful co-existence diverse approaches have been adopted at various levels. Such efforts have been inspired by the different governments or their agencies NGOs, Civil society groups, individuals, as well as the school to promote the culture of peace in the local area. Peace is a state of harmony between people or groups, freedom from strife, peace is something that individuals need to adopt in the society to build a healthy nation. It is important to deeply understand the dynamic of student’s peaceful engagement from the international, national, state down to local levels. Omotayo (2005), observed that Geneva women gathered for five (5) days in October, 2002 to discuss new initiatives aimed at promoting world peace and eliminating the causes of conflicts. In line with the efforts to promote peace and its sustainability, the United Nations declared the year 2000-2010 as international declaration for a culture of peace and non-violence for schools and children of the society.

However, in Nigeria Ukeje (2004), examined the non-violent protest by students from different ethnic groups in the Niger Delta Area of Nigeria over ecological degradation as it affects their fishing among others.

Furthermore, he asserted that, students carried out peaceful protest as a way of improving the environment in which they carry out their productive activities. Similarly, when state of emergency was to be imposed in Plateau State, Nigeria, he noted that Christian students took to the streets to protest. Their protest was not violent, but effective and point to how the intellect and energy of students can be harnessed for peace in the state. As part of strategies for peace in the local area conferences, seminars and workshops were organized with a vision of peace. To reduce the rate of orphans, dropout students and economic instability in the society. Christian students in Barkin Ladi teamed up to promote peace, since students and schools are more affected during crises.

Therefore, to instill discipline and enhance peaceful co-existence, Christian Religion Education is not only to impact content of the Bible in schools but to impact moral lessons and instructions. Religion provides the moral foundation of every society. Religion teaches that certain things are good and certain things are bad. Without a sound or strong moral foundation every society or nation eventually collapses. Hughes (1999), observed that Christian Religion Education that convey the message of peaceful co-existence is concerned with the improvement of mind. Central to the development of the mind is the growth of knowledge.

Obilom (2004:3) observes that; good Christian Religious Education (CRE) that is based on sound Biblical principles brings social happenings, change situations from worst to best and provide means and answers to questions which science alone cannot provide. It provides in no small measures the patterns of life and behaviour in society. CRE is a useful instrument for social control by making the individual conform to the rules and norms of the society.

Similarly, Robinson (2005:56) noted that, the

Teaching of Christian Religion Education gives the child the right ideas about God. His will and the idea of good and evil. To produce good citizens who will be useful to God, their nation and their neighbours. Christian Religion Education also lead children to respect laws and orders and make them be good followers. Christian values such as honesty, truthfulness, loyalty, obedience, selflessness, kindness to others, and co-operation at work are all encouraged by Christian Religion Education.

Christian Religion Education be it primary, secondary, tertiary institutions, seminaries and theological colleges exposes students to principles of dialogue. Imo (1995) added that, apart from teaching, courses that deal with dialogue, students study Islam and other world religions as part of their syllabi. This would help them respect other people’s faith hence live in peace with one another

However, the teachings of Christian Religion Education has been given the bearest minimum of time allocation on the school time table. Also, very little emphasis has been placed on teachers professional training in Christian Religion education, largely as a result of them is guided belief that anyone can teach Christian religion Education, (Ishaya, 2007). Illori (2004) said the possession of training specifically in Religion education is a first priority in the mind of appointing authorities. As a result religion education has been taught in secondary schools over the years largely by teachers who have been either untrained or only partially trained in the subject.

Ilori further added that the teaching of Religion education amount to nothing less than an exercise in sheer indoctrination, the teaching of tradition and practice as if they were facts. Mamam (2007), in his view, explains that the need for peace cuts across tribal, ethnic, political and cultural lines. Therefore Christian religion education often is the bridge that connects peace to people from different backgrounds and orientations. It is the source of unity for uniting and bringing people together to form a good community of believers.

Christian Religion education teaches peace and tolerance, and its promote the virtue of peaceful co-existence such as, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, respect for life and other values that promote non-violence leading to progress and lasting peace in the school. Christian Religion education has always been a tool for peace building, because we all believe in the existence of God.

1.2    STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

We live in a pluralistic society with people of various social and ethnic backgrounds with different customs, religion and belief. It is as a result of this that what affect one community will most likely affects the other. Prior to the ethno-religious crises in Barkin Ladi Area, people lived peacefully with each other irrespective of their religion, culture and beliefs. The pattern of settlement has not been along religious line, they saw each other as brothers and sisters, as time went on, the peace enjoyed in Barkin Ladi Area was challenged as a result of political, ethno-religious crises that occurred in the area, the crises has been between the Berom, Fulani and Hausa’s since 200 level to date the crises has exposed most youths to violence, which has increased the rate of crime in the area.

The crisis has generated a lot of problems in the local government area which has hampered peaceful co-existence in the area. The land is now segregated along religious lines with different groups scared to reside in areas not dominated by their fellow religious members, for fear of future reoccurrence. As things are presently, Christian dominated areas, like Kassa, Heipang, Foron, Fan and Ropp. While Fulani/Muslim counterparts, dominated areas like Rankung, Rakweng, Shonong, Maseh, Dogo, Fass and Sharu. Many people are still afraid that the crises seen in the past may resurface and adherents of the two faiths still see each other with suspicion. It is almost 12 years after the crises and religious relationship that existed among the people in the area prior to the crises is yet to return. The brutal killings, destruction and fear has led to the closure some schools, which has resulted to school children not performing excellently because of insecurity.

Peace building becomes increasingly important as a means of preventing continuing hostility. As a result, many attempts to building peace have been made at various levels by different groups. The government has intervened through its agencies, NGOs both at international and national levels, individual efforts the schools and others have tried in order to promote the culture of peace that has lost its relevance but the role played by Christian education appears to be silent or non-existent.

Students are most hit during period of open violence. The researcher deemed it necessary to investigate into the matter to draw out Christian religion education roles in promoting peaceful co-existence.

1.3    PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The main purpose of this study is to examine the role of Christian Religious Education as a tool of promoting peaceful co-existence in Barkin Ladi LGA. The study is also designed to achieve the specific objectives:

1.     To identify the causes of crises in Barkin Ladi LGA.

2.     To identify the effect of the crises on educational activities in the area.

3.     To identify ways that Christian Religion Education can help in establishing peace among school children.

4.     To identify approaches in the teaching and learning of Christian Religion Education that would promote peaceful co-existence.

5.     To identify ways that Government and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can promote peaceful co-existence in the local area.

1.4    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following questions have been formulated to guide the study:

1.     What are the causes of violence in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area?

2.     What are the effects of crises on students’ academic activities in Barkin Ladi?

3.     What are the efforts made by government and non-governmental organizations in promoting peaceful co-existence in Barkin Ladi?

4.     To what extent can Christian Religion Education promote peaceful co-existence among students in Barkin Ladi LGA?

5.     What are the approaches adopted by teachers in teaching and learning Christian Religion Education that could promote peaceful co-existence in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area?

1.5     HYPOTHESES

The following hypotheses are formulated to guide the study:

Ho:    The prevalence of crises in Barkin Ladi has no significant relationship with students’ enrolment.

Hi:     There is no significant relationship between crises in Barkin Ladi and academic activities in the area.

1.6     SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

It is the hope of the researcher that at the end of her findings the study would be of great benefit to the following:

The study would help the students to see the need of education, to improve them in building their morals on how they will have respect, tolerance for each other and discourage them from involving themselves in conflicts.

The study would help teachers to improve their method of teachings, and to build students both physical and spiritually as values such as tolerance, respect and obedience and to see the danger of being involved in crises or destructive attitudes in the society.

Parents would benefit from this study to see the importance of schooling to educate their children to embrace peace and tolerate and to develop good commitment and grow up with the hearts of loving fellow children in the society.

To our religious leaders the study would help them educate their members by teaching them the true and right doctrines in such a way that fear of God will be inculcated in the society, members would learn tolerance and respect for each other religion and live peacefully.

The study would help our politicians to realize that the act of governance involves people not stones, and to know that love and peace are fundamental in the society, therefore this would build good relationship among people.

To the government it would be of benefit in the sense that efforts would be made to build local, national and international partnership, and to create laws that will enforce peaceful co-existence.

The study would help other researchers to contribute in transforming and correcting the understanding of the perpetrators of crises to become instrument of peace, and take the necessary steps to foster unity and tolerance in the society.

1.7    DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The study focus on the role of Christian Religious Education in promoting peaceful co-existence in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State. It would have been better to examine the role of Christian Religion Education in promoting peaceful co-existence in all the schools, but due to the width of the area, the researcher limited the study to some selected schools within the local government area. Presently the people are living in fear and there is division among them. Therefore the research work is focus on searching for the causes of lack of peaceful co-existence in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area. The danger caused by lack of peaceful co-existence and how it has affected the students’ academics.

1.8    OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS

Christian:                   Refers to a person who believes in the teaching of Jesus Christ and someone who has been born again and put faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Religion:                     Refers to man’s expression of his acknowledgement of the divine or a system of belief and practices relating to the sacred and unity its adherents in communities.

Education:                 Refers to the act or process of impacting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the power of reasoning and judgment and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

Peaceful Co-existence:  Refer to a situation or a period of time in which there is no war or violence in a country or an area, state of being calm of quietude and living in friendship with somebody.

Secondary School:     Refers to a school which provides education to people between the age of 11 and 18, the level of studies between primary and under level of learning.

Promoting:                 Refer to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further; to promote world peace.


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