Living the Future in Dialogue

Towards a New Integral and Transformative Model of Religious Education for Nigeria in the 21 st Century

by Chizurum Ann Ugbor (Author)
©2015 Thesis 529 Pages


This book challenges the faith-oriented conversion that encourages an exclusivist and monological approach to religious education in schools. «Living the Future in Dialogue» develops a new pedagogical paradigm for Nigeria: the «Integral and Transformative Model». Using a systematic approach, the book discusses the Christian tradition in light of the existence of other religions and worldviews. Religious education must encourage pupils to develop their own religious identities and respond to plurality to become members of a multicultural and multi-religious society. It is presented as an enrichment of a human being in relation to the self, world and God and the community as the locus where the human person is taught to develop the language of love, trust and hope.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Table of Contents
  • General Introduction
  • Motivations
  • Dissertation’s Thesis
  • Research Questions
  • Research Methods
  • Religious Education: The Need for an Integral and Transformative Model
  • An Overview of the Structural Scheme of the Dissertation
  • Chapter One: Nigeria’s Education Policy and Current Nigerian Approaches to Religious Education: Background to Research
  • Introduction to Chapter One
  • Section I: Evolution of Nigeria’s Education Policy: A Short History
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 1.1. The Past Educational System Prior to Nigeria’s Independence
  • 1.1.1. The Indigenous Educational System
  • 1.1.2. The Influence of Arabic-Islamic Education in Nigeria
  • 1.1.3. Colonial Government (1800-1960) and Educational Development: The Impact of Euro-Christians
  • 1.2. An Analysis of the influences and Challenges of the Three Dominant Approaches to Education in Nigeria
  • 1.2.1. Traditional Education Process
  • 1.2.2. Arabic-Islamic Approach to Education
  • 1.2.3. Christian Missionary Educational Approach
  • 1.2.4. British Colonial Educational Approach
  • The Positive Impacts of British Colonial Approach to Education
  • Criticisms against the British Colonial and Nigeria’s Post-colonial Approach
  • 1.2.5. The Approaches of British, Christian, and Islamic Educational Approach: A Synthetic Appraisal
  • 1.3. National Educational Policy in the Post-Independence Era: Nigerians’ Experiences and Interventions
  • 1.3.1. The First Decade of National Policy in the Post-Independence Era 1960-1970
  • 1.3.2. The Second Decade of Post-War Educational Policy 1970-1980
  • The Second National Development Plan, 1970-1974: Era of ‘Reconstructing, Rehabilitating, and Reconciling’ Nigeria
  • The Third National Development Plan 1975-1980: Building a Greater Nigeria
  • 1.3.3. The Third Decade of National Policy in Post-War Nigeria 1981-1985: Education became the Source for Political Survival
  • 1.3.4. The Fourth Decade of National Policy 1999-2013
  • Conclusion to Section I
  • Section II: Government Takeover of Schools, Religious Education and its Aims: Between Ideal and Reality
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 1.4. Government Take-Over of Private Schools: Facts and Reasons
  • 1.4.1. Impact of Government Takeover on Religious Education
  • 1.4.2. Standard Christian Religious Studies/Knowledge Curriculum in Nigeria
  • 1.4.3. Consequences of the Government Takeover of Schools on Religious Education
  • 1.4.4. The Identity of Catholic schools after Government Take-over of Schools
  • 1.5. An Overview of Religious Education Today
  • 1.5.1. Current Educational Syllabus Promoting National Unity and Peaceful Co-existence with other Religions
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter One
  • Chapter Two: Faith Development in Relation to Religious Education: A Critical Analysis of James W. Fowler’s Theory
  • Introduction to Chapter Two
  • Section I: James Fowler’s Notion of Faith Development Theory: An Exploratory Study
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 2.1. Evolution of Fowler’s Thoughts and World-view
  • 2.2. James Fowler’s Understanding of Faith
  • 2.2.1. Faith as a Universal Concept
  • 2.2.2. Faith as Distinct from Religion and Belief
  • 2.2.3. Faith as a Relational Enterprise
  • 2.2.4. Faith as Imagination
  • 2.3. Kingdom of God: Ultimate Experience of Faith
  • 2.4. Fowler’s Stages of Faith Development Theory
  • 2.4.0. Pre-stage: Undifferentiated Faith
  • 2.4.1. Stage One: Intuitive-Projective Faith
  • 2.4.2. Stage Two: Mythic-Literal Faith
  • 2.4.3. Stage Three: Synthetic-Conventional Faith
  • 2.4.4. Stage Four: Individuative-Reflective Faith
  • 2.4.5. Stage Five: Conjunctive Faith
  • 2.4.6. Stage Six: Universalising Faith
  • Conclusion to Section 1
  • Section II: Critical Reflection on Fowler’s Faith Stages in Relation to Religious Education
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 2.5. Fowler’s Faith Development Theory: His Insipirations in Contemporary Society
  • 2.6. Some Criticisms of Fowler’s Faith Development Theory
  • 2.6.1. Critique on Fowler’s Definition of Faith
  • 2.6.2. Critique on Fowler’s Universalising Faith
  • 2.6.3. Ambiguity
  • 2.6.4. Epistemological Assumptions as Problems for Theological Anthropology
  • 2.6.5. Critique against Fowler’s Rationalist Approach
  • 2.6.6. Critique of the Primacy of the Cognitive-structural Perspective
  • 2.7. Personal Reflection on Fowler’s Faith Development in Relation to Religious Education
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter Two
  • Chapter Three: Towards an Understanding of Thomas H. Groome’s Shared Christian Praxis Approach to Christian Religious Education
  • Introduction to Chapter Three
  • Section I: An Exposition of Groome’s Approach of Christian Religious Education
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 3.1. Developments of Groome’s Pastoral and Theological Thoughts
  • 3.2. The Nature of Christian Religious Education within the Faith Community
  • 3.2.1. Groome’s Understanding of Christian Religious Education
  • 3.2.2. The Temporality of Being in Education
  • 3.2.3. Characteristic of Christian Religious Education
  • 3.3. The Purpose of Christian Religious Education
  • 3.3.1. Lived Christian Faith
  • 3.4. The Dynamics of Groome’s Approach of Shared Christian Praxis
  • 3.4.1. Shared Christian Praxis and the Christian Faith Formation
  • The Constitutive Components in Shared Christian Praxis
  • The Communal Dynamics of Partnership, Participation, and Dialogue
  • The Dialectical Hermeneutics between “Praxis” and “Christian”
  • 3.5. Five Pedagogical Movements of Shared Christian Praxis
  • 3.5.1. Naming/Expressing Present Praxis
  • 3.5.2. Engaging the Participants in Critical Reflection
  • 3.5.3. The Christian Story and Vision as an Aspect in the Christian Faith Formation
  • 3.5.4. Dialectical Hermeneutics to Appropriate Story/Vision to Participants’ Stories and Visions
  • 3.5.5. The Decision Making by Participants for Lived Christian Faith
  • 3.6. Readiness and Co-Partnership in Christian Religious Education
  • 3.6.1. Groome’s Reflections on Kairos and Chronos
  • 3.6.2. Christian Religious Educators as Leading Learners
  • Conclusion to Section I
  • Section II: Contributions and Critiques of Groome’s Shared Christian Praxis Approach
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 3.7. The Achievements of Groome’s Shared Christian Praxis Approach
  • 3.8. Some Criticisms of Groome’s Shared Christian Praxis Approach
  • 3.8.1. Critique on Groome’s Methodology of Shared Christian Praxis
  • 3.8.2. Ambiguity in Groome’s Concept of Critical Reflection
  • 3.8.3. Critique on Groome’s Educational Practices in Christian Religious Education
  • 3.8.4. A Critical Review on Groome’s Hermeneutics of Scripture and Christian Tradition
  • 3.8.5. Critique on Groome’s Total Catechetical Education Approach
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter three
  • Chapter Four: Exposition on Robert Jackson’s Interpretive and Dialogical Approach to Religious Education
  • Introduction to Chapter Four
  • Section I: Jackson on the Nature of Religious Education
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 4.1. Understanding Religious Education in the Context of Plurality
  • 4.1.1. Traditionalist Challenge to Plurality of Religious Education
  • Jackson’s Critique of Traditionalist Challenges
  • 4.1.2. Postmodernist Reaction to Plurality of Religious Education
  • Jackson’s Response to Postmodernist Challenge to Plurality of Religious Education
  • 4.1.3. Post-liberal Position to Plurality of Religious Education
  • Jackson’s Response to Post-liberal Challenge to Plurality of Religious Education
  • 4.2. Dynamics of Jackson’s Interpretive and Dialogical Approaches to Religious Education
  • 4.2.1. Representation of Religious Traditions and Cultures in their Complexity and Inner Diversity to School Pupils
  • 4.2.2. Interpretations of World Religions to the Pupils in the Classroom: Beyond the Classical Phenomenology of Religion
  • Husserlian and Gerardus Phenomenology of Religion
  • Jackson Critical Response to Phenomenological Approaches in RE
  • Jackson’s Cautious Appreciation of Jacques Waardenburg’s Phenomenology
  • The Promise of Ethnography for Phenomenology of Religion
  • 4.2.3. Reflexivity on the Methods of Studying Religions
  • Edification of One’s Own self and Others’ Religio-Cultural Backgrounds
  • Engaging Students to Make a Constructive Critique of the Religious Materials Studied in the Classroom
  • Involving Pupils as Agents in Planning, Designing and Evaluating RE Lessons
  • Conclusion to Section I
  • Section II: Towards a Critical Appraisal of Jackson’s Approach: Critique
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 4.3. Jackson’s Contributions to Religious Education of Pupils
  • 4.4. A Critique of Jackson’s Pedagogical Method and Practices
  • 4.4.1. A Shortcoming in Jacksons Reflexive Interaction
  • 4.4.2. Little or No Space for Family in Jackson’s Interpretive Approach to Religious Education
  • 4.4.3. Inattentiveness to the Distinctiveness of the Christian Faith
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter Four
  • Chapter Five: Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education in a Pluralist Society
  • Introduction to Chapter Five
  • Section I: The Evolution of Religious Pedagogical Models in Europe
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 5.1. Mono-Religious Education in Europe (Flanders)
  • 5.1.1. Mono-religious and Deductive Education: Between 1950s and 1960s
  • Mono-religious Approach to RE: An Evaluation
  • 5.1.2. Anthropological Experience as the Goal of Religious Education (Inductive Education): The Second Phase between 1970-1980s
  • Conciliar Fathers’ Approach to Diversity in a Contemporary Society
  • Karl Rahner and Paul Tillich’s Anthropological Approach to Plurality
  • Implications of Vatican II, Rahner and Tillich’s Perspectives for RE and World-life of Pupils
  • What Does this Inclusivistic (inductive) Variant of the Anthropological and Correlative Model imply for Religious Education?
  • 5.1.3. Effects of Secularisation, Pluralisation and Globalisation from the 80s: A Quest for Recognition of Multi-religiosity
  • Secularisation
  • Pluralisation
  • Globalisation
  • 5.1.4. Multi-RE in the 80s-90s: A Concern for a Cultural and Objective Study of Religions
  • Multi-religious Education: a Response to Socio-cultural Realities Facing Pupils in the (Post) Modern World?
  • 5.1.5. Religious Education as Search for Meaning in the 90s
  • Conclusion to Section I
  • Section II: Beyond Mono/Multi-Religious Education: The HCM of Religious Education as a Response to Cultural and Social Life of Pupils
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 5.2. A Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education
  • 5.2.1. The Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education: A Challenge to Religious Educators
  • Elements of the Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education in Confrontation with Secularisation, Pluralisation, and De-traditionalisation
  • Deductive Component of the Leuven Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education
  • Hermeneutical Intersections
  • Multicorrelative Methodology
  • Recontextualisation and the Hermeneutical-Communicative Model of Religious Education
  • The Theological Foundation of the Hermeneutical-Communicative Model: Its Symbolic Affirmation of Faith
  • 5.3. Attitudes of Educators in Shaping Pupils’ Search for Meaning of Life, Identity-building Resources and Spirituality
  • 5.3.1. The Threefold Functions of a Religious Educator as a Witness, Specialist and Moderator
  • 5.4. The Hermeneutics-Communicative Model in the Postmodern Context: The Promises and Contestations
  • 5.4.1. The Promises of the Hermeneutical-Communicative Model in the Formation of Youth and Religious Education
  • Religious Truth as U-topia: An Eschatological Concept
  • Understanding of Christian Tradition in its Irreducible Particularity and Plurality
  • Engagement and Commitment of Pupils in the Learning Process: A Call to Christian Preferential Option
  • 5.5. Possible Contestations in Teaching with the HCM in Religious Education and Identity Formation of Pupils: A Critical Appraisal
  • 5.5.1. Tension between Theory and Practices in Terms of WSM Functions of Educators of Religion (Personal Teaching Experience in Flanders)
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter Five
  • Chapter Six: Towards an Integral and Transformative Model of Religious Education of the Youth in Nigeria: Proposals and Challenges
  • Introduction
  • Section I: Integral and Transformative Model of Religious Education: Western Contributions
  • Introduction to Section I
  • 6.1. Presentation of the Central Components of the ITRE-Model and Their Relations
  • 6.1.1. The Wholeness of Person
  • 6.1.2. Content (Communication-oriented) Component
  • 6.1.3. Religious (Hermeneutics of Life) Component
  • 6.1.4. Justice and Peace Education Component: Liberative Praxis
  • Peace Education as a Tool for Social Formation and Transformation
  • Religious Education Forming Students for Just Living
  • Justice and Peace Education (Liberative Praxis) in RE: Inspirations from Fowler, Groome, Jackson and the HCM
  • 6.2. Eschatological Vision: Future-Oriented
  • 6.3. Community
  • 6.4. Enveloped in God’s Grace
  • Conclusion to Section 1
  • Section II: Integral and Transformative Religious Education Model: African Contributions and Possible Challenges
  • Introduction to Section II
  • 6.5. African Contributions to the Integral Re Model
  • 6.5.1. Community and Pedagogical Formation
  • 6.5.2. Religious Education and Human Experience
  • 6.5.3. Religious Education, Discipline and Virtue Formation
  • 6.5.4. Religious Education and Liberative Consciousness
  • 6.5.5. Religious Education Confronting Contemporary Challenges
  • 6.5.6. Religious Education and the Popularity of Religious Studies in Tertiary Institutions
  • 6.6. Possible Challenges Facing NIgerian RE and Curriculum Theorists
  • 6.6.1. Not Monological but Dialogical Hermeneutical Teaching Methodology
  • 6.6.2. The Extremes of God’s Transcendence and Immanence in Nigerian Religious and Pastoral Education of Young People: Theological Aims
  • 6.6.3. Teaching Aid
  • 6.6.4. Balancing the Nigerian Educational System between Multi-culturality and Multi-ethnic Sensitivity
  • Short, Medium, and Long Term Responses: Inspirations from the Integral and Transformative Model
  • Conclusion to Section II
  • Conclusion to Chapter Six
  • General Conclusion
  • Research Findings and Relevance of Study
  • 1. An Overview of the Results from the Historical Analysis of Nigeria’s Educational Policy and Current Religious Education Approaches Done in Chapter One
  • Interdisciplinary Religious Education in Pluralistic Milieus is Possible and Necessary
  • 1. Important Findings from the Systematic Study on Fowler’s Faith Development Theory done in Chapter Two
  • 2. Research Findings from the Analytical Study on Groome’s Shared Christian Praxis done in Chapter Three
  • 3. An Overview of the Results from the Analysis of Jackson’s Interpretive and Dialogical Approach to Religious Education, done in Chapter Four
  • 4. Our Research Results from the Analytical Study on the HCM done in Chapter Five
  • The Integral and Transformative Religious Education Model: Beyond Nigeria’s Monological and Conversion-oriented Model
  • 1. Africans’ Contributions and Challenges to the Integral and Transformative Model
  • Integral and Transformative Religious Education Model for Nigeria: Between Contextuality and Universality
  • Abbreviations
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Eccelesiastical Sources
  • Conciliar Documents
  • Papal Documents
  • Special Reports and Other Documents
  • Primary Sources
  • James Fowler
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Thomas Groome
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Robert Jackson
  • Books
  • Articles
  • The HCM (Hermans Lombaerts and Didier Pollefeyt)
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Other Sources
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Unpublished Works
  • Electronic Works

← 20 | 21 → General Introduction

Religious education (henceforth RE) has been and continues to be seen as a powerful force that forms, reforms and reshapes pupils’ religious identities or philosophies of life, conflicts and crises of life. Also, RE if carefully and systematically taught in the classroom within the Christian preferential perspective, has the power to encourage pupils, especially, the young generation to develop their own religious identities or world-views and respond to plurality as to become members of a multicultural and multi-religious society without losing sight in their religious identity and particularity.

In the contemporary world, the challenging reality is how to teach and redefine RE to be dynamic and meaningful for young generation within the accelerating complexity of post-modern, secularised and individualistic contexts without undermining the particularity of the Christian identity. Religious education that is responsive to this challenging reality must not only take into account the plurality, the ideological perceptions of today’s world and the reality of different religious traditions, interpretations and cultural identities, but also invite young people to encounter the Christian tradition as a rich source of becoming humans. In this sense, RE as a formation is very necessary in (Catholic) schools because it integrates and influences people’s day-to-day lives with the local and global issues: human rights, social justice, peace education and conflicts resolution. It also opens a learning perspective that not only informs students about different religions, cultures and world-views but also confronts them to discover, understand, tolerate, appreciate and dialogue with different religious and cultural groups.

However, for the moment, this is not the case in the Nigerian monological and confessional model of RE that does not go beyond memorisation of the Qur’an and Hadith and the Shari‘ah (for Muslims) and the catechism and the Bible (for Christians), conversion and imposition of faith, disconnected from life experiences of people. In this context, Nigerian RE does not expose students to pressing issues like Christian-Muslims relations, knowledge of Islamic religion, the methodology of carrying out missionary activity and evangelisation in a religiously pluralist and constitutionally secular country. Instead, Nigerian RE is oriented towards indoctrination, dogma and conversion of either non-Christians embracing Christianity or non-Muslims embracing Islam.

Therefore, the lack of an integral and transformative religious education (henceforth ITRE) curriculum with practical sensitivity for plurality has resulted ← 21 | 22 → in persistent ‘fears’ of indoctrination, domination, manipulation and poaching, ethno-religious violence and conflicts, inter-religious and inter-cultural controversy and rivalries from both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. A principal claim of this dissertation is that an ITRE is needed in Nigeria today so that Nigerian youths may be prepared to face the existential and cultural challenges of the time.


The rise of religious violence and conflicts prevalent in Nigeria started during the colonial period (from about 1850 to 1960) in which the British colonialism introduced a dimension of ambiguity to public life in Nigeria.1 The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ method between the Northern (predominantly, Muslims) and Southern (predominantly, Christians) part did not consider the different ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria. As Moses Ochonu opines that during the debate on the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern colonies between 1913 and 1914, the members of the Lagos (South-West Nigeria) elite for instance, “made it clear in their protest that the peoples of the North and those of the South were starkly different, had different world-views and that any nation created out of an arbitrary union of the two territories would not function…. The Chronicle in its editorial stated that the south was not Muslim and that the principle of Northern administration was anathema to Southerners.”2

Consequently, the British colonialists related with Islam in Northern Nigeria as “religio licita,”3 which aimed at ‘preserving the north’s Islamic religion’ and politics and restricting the Christian missionaries to work only in the so-called ‘pagan areas.’ Subsequently, the British policy of ‘religio licita’ in Northern Nigerian contributed to obstruct inter-religious and inter-cultural integration because it created a sharp polarisation between Christians and Muslims in Nigerian society, so the Nigerian society right from that time was divided along religious, educational and political lines. These misconstrue trust among Nigerians deepened the “fall apart” as Chinua Achebe described in his novel ‘Things Fall ← 22 | 23 → Apart.4 The issue of religious dominance and divide (both religions impose their own values and control their own states) has become a major problem in Nigeria since Muslims and Christians do not mix properly and the political struggle for political power has come to entail the manipulation of the symbols and beliefs of Islam and Christianity5 and created disputes between supposed local groups and ‘settlers’ over distribution of public resources.6 On the part of education, many Nigerian Muslims in the North did not gain benefits of Western education as in the South. This has given rise till date to a lasting and destabilising dichotomy on the historical memory of Nigerian Muslims and Christians especially between the South and the North.7

As a follow up, there was the outbreak of the Civil War, between Nigeria and Biafra from 1967-1970. Thus, widened the ethno-religious violence and conflicts entrenched by the British colonial administration. Since the 1970s, the inter-ethnic antagonism and inter-regional rivalries have been intensified, spread geographically, threatened and affected the entire nation.8 Each religious riot in Nigeria today claims many lives and results to massive burning and destruction of property, homes as well as, places of worship. The wounds of the Nigerian-Biafra War has not yet be healed, since the various educational national policies established after the independence in 1960 have failed to develop a national RE curriculum that can accommodate the narratives, values, religious texts and symbols of the more than three hundred ethnic and linguistic groups.

Besides, religion which should play a vital role in the socio-political life of Nigeria has slowly (from the British colonialism to post-colonialism) turned into “a ← 23 | 24 → battle-field for inter-religious struggle between Christianity and Islam,”9 a threat to its politics, economics and education, most especially on institutions in which “the ideology ‘students-as-quaestors-after-knowledge’ has been replaced by ‘students-as-religious-disciples’”10 Accordingly “what now fill up the academic notice boards on campuses are flyer messages announcing: ‘only Jesus can save;’ ‘accept Islam and be saved;’ ‘this campus is for Christ;’ ‘die not except as a Muslim;’ and ‘Islam, the only way to paradise.’”11

In that case, young Nigerians (either in (non)Catholic or (non)Muslims schools) are breed to become religiously manipulated for inter-religious violence. Political leaders as well, use youths to get their political powers, which often lead to bloody shedding of human beings. The emergence of charismatic movements within the Catholic Church in Nigeria has undoubtedly satisfied a part of young people’s yearnings with its renewal approaches. But this is only part of the story. In my judgement, these charismatic movements within the Catholic Church seem to emphasise on spiritual activism without an ITRE formation.

My experiences and talks with some young Nigerians students (during my holiday visit to my country, Nigeria, 2009) who voiced on the role of religion and the educational curriculum fostering peace and justice are worth quoting:

“Joblessness makes it easy for graduates to be manipulated for interreligious violence.”

“Political leaders are using youths to get their political powers.”

“Ideas of religious intolerance and ignorance have created a lot of problems between religions.”

“Peaceful coexistence does not work in Nigeria; we talk of unity in diversity; it is difficult because of the issue of divide and rule; we are not ruling Nigeria as an entity… One Nigeria is not in reality.”

“For national unity and peaceful coexistence with other religions, Nigerian reasoning needs to move beyond fanatics; there is no religious tolerance; … unity is not there.”

← 24 | 25 → “Government should maintain that Nigeria is a secular state and should not control religious matters.”

“The following will promote peace as a way of living: reconciliation among enemies, accepting one another, avoiding malice; practicing rehabilitation.”

The voice of Nigerian students showed that they live in an atmosphere of tension, violence and trauma since it is this same post-war generation and their parents who are perpetrating violence and traumatising their children and grandchildren today. It struck me that these Nigerian students are not different from post-holocaust students (grand & great-grandchildren of post-holocaust generation).

It is within this context, that this dissertation calls for new pedagogical paradigm that can bridge the “ideological gulf” between the two major religions through building a truly multi-religious nation that moves beyond mere declarations and definitions of Nigeria as a secular state and counteract those sentiments that breed religious arrogance and bigotry.12 Therefore, the Nigeria youths’ voices challenge educators like me, a Roman Catholic nun and pastoral theologian, who will be either teaching or working with young people, to carefully and systematically pay attention to the historical, cultural and other contexts in which religious conflicts, tension, intolerance and violence take place in Nigeria. To develop an ITRE approach that can be inclusive and reflect the country’s diversity, transforms peoples’ mindsets and ways in which they relate with each other and respond creatively to controversies over religion in Nigerian schools. Furthermore, in view of the dichotomous and acrimonious space between the two dominant religious groups in the country thus causing violent conflict and absence of justice in the country, it is important to present a scientific research on how RE can contribute towards resolving the problem of lack of ameliorative justice in contexts like Nigeria.

← 25 | 26 → Dissertation’s Thesis

If the process of RE really encourages youths to integrate their faith into their day-to-day lives and transform the divide and rule mentality, then religious educators (e.g. the Church) should critically appropriate the past traditions in the present situation of lived experience, as they shape a new future for the learners and even the religious educators. To this end, the contextual Hermeneutic-Communicative model (Catholic, Belgium (henceforth, HCM) – Lombaerts and Pollefeyt) and other contemporary approaches (such as, James W. Fowler (Methodist, United States), Thomas H. Groome (Roman Catholic, United States) and Robert Jackson (an Anglican, (Church of England), Great Britain), might yield an ITRE model that can bridge the gap between Christian faith and life experience in Nigeria’s Christian/Islamic Religious Education and in youth formation and respond to plurality, without denying students their own Christian identity.

Research Questions

1.What can we learn from the analysis of the history of Christian RE in Nigeria (1883-2013) in terms of the need to develop an integral and transformative process of RE model within the actual context of Nigeria?

2.How can Nigerian society at the same time do justice to its desire to be ‘one nation’ and to the reality of religious and ethnic diversity?

3.What can we learn from the hermeneutical turn in religious pedagogy as it is developed recently in the Western world (Fowler, Groome, Jackson and the HCM) for RE in Nigeria and how can we implement and contextualise this hermeneutical turn in a constructive and critical manner in Nigeria?

4.What contributions can Africans contribute to contemporary understanding in RE and in youth formation?

Research Methods

This dissertation employs historical, systematic and practical methods. A historical research work presents a clear picture or depiction of a particular situation, describing a process and offering historical explanations about some patterns of behaviours or relationship. The key questions in this research are ‘Who?’ and ‘How?’13 The first chapter shall offer a historical portrayal of Nigeria’s educational ← 26 | 27 → policy and current RE practice but with an eye on factors fuelling the religious and conflicts across Nigeria. In this historical method, analysis of the sources available is made in order to reconstruct the history of education and RE in particular. This is not done for itself but as the foundation for a reflection on possibilities for RE in the future in Nigeria.

In order to critically make sense of the historical background of RE in Nigeria, chapter two to five shall present systematically the hermeneutical turn in religious pedagogy as it is developed recently in the Western world. The systematic method is a systematic reflection on the way to deal with the Christian tradition in light of the existence of other religions and worldviews. The goal is to come to a consistent and systematic understanding of the Christian tradition, in its inner dynamics, and in its relation to the plurality around it. For this, a critical analysis is made of the available theories and theologies of the relation of Christianity to the other religions and worldviews.

We have chosen four of the most representative and authoritative new hermeneutical approaches available at this moment in the English speaking world: Fowler, Groome, Jackson and the HCM. Also, from chapter two to five (respectively second sections), we shall offer explanation and critical appraisals of some of the theses of the models presented and described. Most particular, the British idea of RE has a special attention because Nigeria was a former colony of Great Britain. Hence, British educational policy influenced Nigeria’s educational policies.

Finally, in order to re-contextualise and make the RE models of Western scholars (Fowler, Groome, Jackson and the HCM) more relevant in Nigerian context, chapter six proposed an ITRE model. This chapter is looking to develop a practical and contextual model of RE for Nigeria inspired by the systematic studies in chapter two to five, in light of the historical analysis of chapter one. Hence, practical theology is a reflection on the way theological ideas could be made practical and how the lived faith of people can also inform theological reflection. The goal is to create a new, creative, coherent approach that can work in the reality of the faith life of the Nigerian people, in respect to the history and to the dynamics of Christian faith.

Religious Education: The Need for an Integral and Transformative Model

Religious and pastoral education in Nigeria has until now not been modelled to accompany today’s youth. There is the need therefore to come up with a religious and pastoral education model that is able to equip the Nigerian youth ← 27 | 28 → by responding to their present needs and crises. One of the principal points in studying the four contemporary understandings of RE, especially in the West today, is that these approaches encourage young people to integrate their faith into their day-to-day lives. To this end, the RE models of Fowler, Groome and Jackson, along with the HCM, have inspired this dissertation’s specific proposal of an ITRE model that can bridge the gap between Christian faith and the lived experience in Nigerian Christian RE. This ITRE model will enable a creative understanding of the religious and pastoral education of the youth in Nigeria in a holistic and participatory manner. Furthermore, the research would also contribute to the strengthening of the faith among adults as well in the light of the current ecclesial call for new evangelisation.

We hope that an ITRE model to religious and pastoral education of the youth in Nigeria might move beyond the monological pattern of educating people towards an engagement with youths in a fruitful faith dialogue.

An Overview of the Structural Scheme of the Dissertation

The results of the research methods and activities described above are articulated and discussed extensively in three parts, consisting of six chapters. The first part explores the historical background to Christian RE in Nigeria, how RE has contributed to and has affected the shaping of youth’s faith commitment. Building on the historical part of the work, the second part will make an exposition of contemporary understandings of RE with an eye on pastoral education with youths. The final part of this dissertation makes use of the research insights obtained to prove the urgency for the integral and transformative model of religious and pastoral education as a challenge for RE among young people in Nigeria.

The first part of this dissertation (chapter one) presents an overview of the Nigerian educational system and is divided into two sections. Section I shall describe and evaluate the past and present Nigerian educational approaches to RE: pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. Hence, the notion of RE is situated within this educational context. In the traditional pre-colonial system education was for virtue formation. It was believed that solid formation in virtues prepared the youth to face the challenges of life and be a bulwark for the family and the community.14

← 28 | 29 → However, when the missionaries came, attention shifted to conversion (faith-oriented). Religious education became object-centred because it focused on church doctrine and teaching. Rote learning and indoctrination became the primary method of learning. Indoctrination presupposed an exclusivist and mono-religious approach to RE. Furthermore, the British colonists through the policy of ‘divide and rule’ separated the North (predominately Muslims) and the South (predominately, Christians). The overall effect of the North-South disparities, especially the ‘Islamisation policy’ of ‘One North, One People’ issued in 1954, created distrust and fears, and resulted in religious violence, conflict and tension.

Hence, the curriculum was fashioned towards religious beliefs, practices and morality, which was not sensitive to the existential and social life of the people. Generally, the RE curriculum, which has been largely monopolised by Protestant pedagogues, is characterised by over-catechising and under-ministering.

Section II of chapter one explores the impact of the government takeover of schools in the 70s, the place of RE and the identity of Catholic schools after government takeover of schools. Sensitivity to religious coexistence and social justice, moral, ethno-religious and political dominations were still low.

On the basis of the challenges mentioned above, the second part of this dissertation (chapter two to five) provides a critical discussion on contemporary understandings of RE with young people. In the following paragraphs I shall highlight the fundamental points in the selected contemporary understandings in RE.

Chapter two will analyse Fowler’s faith development theory in human pilgrimage of faith. This chapter is divided into two sections. The first section pays serious attention to Fowler’s understanding of faith and the various stages of human development and their implications for faith integration. His faith development theory shows that faith involves an on-going process of forming and reforming one’s ways of being in the world. Faith growth according to Fowler is not always smooth; it embraces conflicts and sometimes, filled with challenges of life. Besides, in the second section, we shall critically evaluate the challenges facing Fowler’s faith development such as over-stressing the human capacity of constructing and de-constructing meaning and projecting the human person as the exclusive author of meaning-makers of their faith development, the universalising faith stages that exclude the ‘exceptional persons’ located in the earlier stages of faith and projecting the cognitive-structural theory as the primacy of the faith formation of the human person.

In chapter three, we shall examine Groome’s shared Christian praxis that focuses both on the active participation of the human person for their faith formation and the gift of God’s reign to humanity. Thus, two engagements are essential ← 29 | 30 → to the Christian faith formation: engagement in response to the gift of God’s reign and engagement as a response to the mandate of God’s reign. Groome’s approach is a ‘participative and dialogical pedagogy in which people reflect critically on their historical agency in time and place and on their socio-cultural reality.’15 He highlights the holistic understanding of faith communication and its praxis within the community and in the life of every Christian as a member of the same community. His holistic vision of the Christian RE demands an interconnectedness between faith development and human development, understood as cognitive, affective and behavioural (infra chapter three). The second section makes a critical study on Groome’s shared Christian praxis, especially how difficult it might be for educators to apply this approach in a multicultural society where decline or shift in religiosity among students is radically increasing.

The fourth chapter will explore Jackson’s interpretive and dialogical approach that establishes the interconnection between education and religions as to accommodate the students’ diverse experiences of plurality. The first section of this chapter shall expose Jackson’s dialogue with some theorists’ traditionalist, religious, post-modern, and post-liberal reactions to plurality, as well as, his own understandings of RE in the context of plurality within the three key concepts ‘representation, interpretation and reflexivity.’ For Jackson, RE should be seen as a forum for discussion whereby students are encouraged to engage critically but sensitively in key debates about religion and culture that will enable them to clarify their own sense of identity and to develop their own views and insights. In this sense, Jackson considers the importance of learning to interplay with religious plurality and cultural diversities. In addition, we shall in section II critically evaluate Jackson’s approach to RE, especially his non-confessional approach that is open to plurality of interpretations and cultures without paying attention to the distinctiveness of the Christian faith.

In the fifth chapter, we shall study the HCM of RE. In order to appreciate the importance of the HCM, this chapter shall in the first section explore the various pedagogical models in Europe: mono-religious and deductive, anthropological and correlative, and multi-religious education. The mono-religious learning process takes place within the framework of both an exclusive and inclusive variant. However, both an exclusive and inclusive variant have problems of doing justice to the irreducible and unique alter of other religions. The anthropological and correlative model projects the primacy of human experience. Here, human ← 30 | 31 → experience, the social sciences and the ‘signs of the times’ were highly considered. Nevertheless, this model has been criticized of looking to other religions but only from one’s Christian truth. Again, this model uses the mono-correlative didactics in religion classes, which is a one-way traffic of interpreting human experiences, whereby the teacher easily starts with the experience and uninterruptedly transports it to the Christian tradition. Finally, this model also correlates the salvific message of Christian faith with the modern culture (human experience) such that it aims at harmony, not at difference. The multi-religious model recognizes the diversity of other religions and worldviews by focusing on the multiplicity of religions among pupils but falls into relativism and religious neutrality since its fundamental life options are primarily viewed as a private choices. Moreover, the multi-RE does not take seriously the pluriformity of religious experiences rather; it allows students to just adopt, as it were, whatever choices that are presented, without being challenged to develop their own formation of religious identity.

Beyond the challenges of the mono-religious, the anthropological and the multi-RE, we then examine the HCM that presents religious communication as a means of equipping students and teachers to look at religious realities from different perspectives, thus offering opportunities to express, respond to and critically evaluate what is given as faith communication. The HCM argues that RE is not a one-way traffic. Rather, it is involved with an actual process of religious communication in which visions of the different participants challenge one another.16 Importantly, the HCM seeks for a renewed Catholic profile and a radical invitation of pupils to discover the strength and richness in the Christian tradition and involve in openness to and dialogue with plurality and otherness. In other words, the HCM combines plurality and confessionality together in the RE process of pupils. In section II, we shall critically evaluate the HCM of RE, especially on the possible tension between theory and praxis.

The final part of this dissertation (chapter six) makes use of the research insights obtained from contemporary understandings in RE to prove the urgency for the ITRE approach as a challenge for the on-going RE and formation of young people in contexts like Nigeria. The proposal for an ITRE model is based on the following assumption: inadequate care of the faith through the monological model of RE is basic to the faith crises among the young in Nigeria and this assumption ← 31 | 32 → has been established in chapter one. The proposed model is very important as we seek to rediscover the value of RE among the young people as panacea for the present youth faith crises.

The ITRE model seeks to bring ‘faith into life’ and ‘life into faith.’ This will strike a balance between doctrine and praxis through dialogue with the changing contexts of RE. This model pleads for wholeness of person that pays attention to the social issues confronting young people in Nigeria. Attentiveness to the totality of the human person gives realistic responses to the joy and hopes, anxieties and fears youths bring to their various faith encounters. This model focuses on the ongoing and dynamic process of education in time – past, present, and future – as three essential elements of the same reality, through which the human person actively and reflectively forms and shapes the past-present toward the realisation of the future. In addition, the model shows how to articulate a RE plan that is sensitive to social and peace education and the elaborative dynamics of faith communication.

Through this proposal, this dissertation shall demonstrate how the various dimensions of the human person, namely cognitive, affective, psychological, social, political, spiritual, and physical are considered during the communication of the faith within the Christian community. Such a holistic response would be in view of guaranteeing the future of a vibrant religious faith and practice in Nigeria among the youths.


1 Matthew Ugworji, Interreligious Relations and Solidarity: Contextualising the Vision of Francis Cardinal Arinze for Religious Education in Nigeria (Ann Arbor: ProQuest, 2008), 2.

2 Moses Ochonu, “1914 and Nigeria’s Existential Crisis: A Historical Perspective (2),” 2004, http://www.nigeriavillagessquare.com/ (accessed 10.12.2012).

3 This term shall be explored in details in chapter one, infra

4 Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 2000).

5 Toyin Falola, Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1998), 2.

6 X, “Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict: 2010. Africa Report No 168,” http://www.crisigroup.org/~/media/files/africa/west-africa/nigeria/168Northern Nigeria-Background to Conflict.ashx (accessed 02.05.2011).

7 Rosalind Hackett, “Conflict in the Classroom: Educational Institutions as Sites of Religious Tolerance/Intolerance in Nigeria,” Brigham Young University Law Review 2 (1999): 539.

8 The long-existing religious violence and tensions in Nigeria were aggravated by the reintroduction of Sharia between 1999 and 2002. And examples are cities of Kaduna and Zaria whose populations are religiously and ethnically very mixed, and the very poor states of the far north east, where anti-establishment groups are emerged. See, X, “Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict” (accessed).

9 Konye Ori, “Nigeria: Religious Interference in Education and a Flimsy Future,” 2009, http://www.afrik-news.com/article155 (accessed 10.12.2012).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (September)
Eschatology Justice and Peace Nigeria Hermeneutics of Life
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 529 pp., 5 graphs

Biographical notes

Chizurum Ann Ugbor (Author)

Chizurum Ann Ugbor belongs to a Congregation of Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy. She received her PhD in Pastoral Theology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She is currently serving at Abia State University, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Uturu, Nigeria.


Title: Living the Future in Dialogue
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532 pages