Religious education in the context of sub-Saharan Africa: the Malawian example

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The argument in this paper is that in spite of the acknowledgement of plurality, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa seem reluctant to introduce multi-faith approaches preferring to maintain Christian confessionalism in religious education. Even in those countries where new approaches are being tried, there is some unwillingness to make wholesale changes throughout the school system. In some instances this state of affairs is precipitated not by educational policy but by the socio-religious situation, which mirrors Christian ideals. This is better illustrated in the Malawian context where largely due in part to the historical Christian influence and for the fact Christianity is the major religion in the country, multi-faith religious education introduced in schools was opposed. As a compromise to a difficult situation, government resolved to offer both multi-faith religious education and the historical Bible knowledge on the school curriculum. Results of a school survey seem to indicate that Bible knowledge as opposed to multi-faith religious education is still a favoured syllabus in schools, possible reasons of which are suggested. The conclusion is that efforts should be made to interest those still wary about multi-faith religious education considering the benefits it can bring in a world today where heterogeneity rather than homogeneity is the acceptable reality
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-51
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • multi-faith religious education
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • Malawi
  • socio-religious influence


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