THE IMPACT OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES ON THE MORALS OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT IN NIGERIA
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1 CONCEPT OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Christian Religious Studies is one of the subjects taught in secondary schools in Nigeria. The teaching of the Christian Religious Studies (CRS) could be dated back as 19th century with the pioneers of Nigerian Education (Banjo, 2003). In attempting to discuss the concept of Christian Religious Studies beneficially, it is imperative, to begin by clarifying various terms with rigour and exactitude to avoid any possible news conceptions in the mind of any reader. The word ‘Christian’ etymologically comes from this Greek words ‘Christian’ and Christos; meaning “follower of Christ” and anointed one”, it is used three times in the New testament of the Bible (Act11:28, 1 Peter 4:16). The Bible tells us “it was in Antioch of Syria that the followers of Jesus were first called “Christian”. The question that borders the mind of the reader, which the researchers consider in this definition process, is ‘who is a Christian? The answer to this question can be formulated only in a cumulative fashion. Thus a Christian is a social human person in whom God is present in grace but who is at, same time, prone to act against the, divine preference. Isreal (2011) states that a Christian is one who professes and belief in Jesus Christ or fellows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Anole added that a Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity and Abraham, monotheistic religion based on the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who Christian belief is the Messiah. Okoro (2010) opines that a Christian is a particular kind of human being, not in the sense that a Christian has a different biological or psychic structure, but in the sense that a Christian has moved to a different level of human consciousness. Anih (2010) equally state that a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ, that a person who believes and practices the tenets of the Christian faith in the Holy Scripture (Bible). However, in the context of this study, a Christian is referred to as students who practice Christianity and learn it in school as one of a religion in the world. Religion in the other way has been heated with lots of debate about the meaning and its practices in human society. Its etymology can help to define the concept. Religion is derived the Latin noun ‘religio’, but with some ambiguities arising from these different verbs that are allied with the noun –‘religion’ [to turn constantly” or to observe conscientiously”] ‘religari [to bind on self] (back) and ‘religere’ (“to choose again”) (Okoro, 2010). Each of these verbs according to Okoro points to three possible religious attitudes. Though it is not clear from which verb the noun is derived, each of the verbs is consistent with the view that religion “a relation to God.” McBrien in Okoro (2010) says that religion thus has to do with the whole human existence, and not merely with some special sector of it. He further stresses that religion is the whole complex of attitudes, convictions, emotions, gestures, rituals, beliefs and institutions by which we come to terms with and express our most fundamental relationship with reality (God and the created order, perceived as coming from gods creative hand). Religion therefore, presupposes and flows from faith. It is an individual social and institutional manifestation of some implicit faith in God. Religion not only has to do with the impact of the holy upon us, but with human responses to the holy as well. From these thought there is no doubt on the saying that a religion without the element of the Divine is like a house without foundation. Religion in line with etymology viewpoint is the medium through which man unites himself with god in worship, adoration and service. Anih (2010) maintained that religion refers to both personal practices related to communication stemming from shared conviction. It is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system that is considered to reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator or governor of the universe. Religion therefore, has to do with the whole of human existence, and not merely with some special sector of it. In the context of this study, religion is conceived as the belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ such as love, provision, protection, leadership and the nature of Heavenly Kingdom among other things which help people to live peacefully and harmoniously in the society. Christian religious studies is an aspect of learning that deals with the inculcating in the students certain elements of education intellectual theory and practices of Christ as contained in the Holy Bible. Eluu (2011:284) defines Christian Religious Studies as the education for the development of spiritual, moral and mental, growth of pupils or students” in essence, Christian religious studies is expected to give children an understanding of the universe and the interpersonal relationship between human beings and the supreme beings. Ugwu (2001) opines that CRS is a type of religious studies that bases its teachings in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, Ali and Akubue in John (2009) observe that Christian religious studies is a subject which aims at developing and fostering in the lives of the students Christian attitudes and values such as respect for life, obedient to constituted authority, responsible self, selfless services to God and humanity. They further said that CRS is an academic discipline that is designed to provide the learner with moral and spiritual transformation. In the context of this study, the researcher viewed CRS as a social science subject that teaches students good moral behaviour, fearing of God, knowledge and skills that will make them to contribute their quota in socio-economic, political and moral development in senior secondary schools in Nigeria. The introduction of CRS in school curriculum is not a new thing. During the missionary administration of schools, CRS was given a priority in the school curriculum because of its moral values. Following the Government take-over of schools, Nigerian secondary school curriculum was reviewed and more emphasis was placed on the studies of science and technological subjects who invariably affected the growth of the discipline (Njoku, 2009) in Nigeria, many secondary schools equate Bible studies or “religious education” lessons with moral education. The nation curriculum of religious studies in secondary schools approved by the Nigerian educational research and development council (NERDC) through universal basic education programmes (UBE) (2013) and the federal ministry of education recognized the need for God and to be sound citizen who will be responsive and responsible to national calling. The curriculum covers the introduction of Christian Religious Studies; man and his relation to God, historical activities of prophets, teaching of Christ and apostles, significance of Birth of Jesus Christ, death and resurrection of Christ, Holy Spirit, Acts of Apostles, Jews and Gentiles Miracles of Jesus Christ, commandment of God, Repentance, faith, love, believe and among others (NERDC, 2013).
2.2 TO TEACH MORALS
The teaching of morals has been a long-standing aims recommended for teachers of Christian religious studies in secondary schools and other institutions of learning (Nwachukwu, 2010). Morality is very important concept especially in this era of moral decadence all over the world. Moral education as over the years impacted largely through literature in the forms of legend about the gods and heroes of Greece (Gotan, 2005). Gottan admitted that in the Judeo Christian tradition the link between morality and religions has been so close that people still regard them as inseparable. Gotan (2005) maintains that to admit logical distinction between religion and morality does not, however, mean that they are antagonistic realms of human experience or that their objectives are mutually exclusive
2.3 TO TEACH CATECHESIS OR CHRISTIAN NATURE
The view that CRS aims at teaching catechesis or Christian nature underlies the frequent demand by the various churches that Christian religious studies in schools should be given to their adherents by teachers who are members of their own religious denomination. The view seeks to awaken, nourish and develop ones personal belief and to hand on the received tradition so as to build up the ecclesial community, (Mangan, 2006). Although, most religious educators today, however, insist that confessional teaching of religion is not appropriate in the school content, its parochial nature offers scope for dealing with the practical problems of religious diversity in modern pluralistic societies. Obilon in Eluu (2009) states that the aims of teaching Christian religious studies in Nigerian schools is to educate the Nigerian children both morally and intellectually, and instill in them the desire to be good citizens”. So through guidance and supervision of their conducts, the children are encouraged to develop a right attitude towards life, their environment, interpersonal relationship and community living. Eluu (2009) maintained that Christian religious studies aims at making the children have faith in God, speak to Him in prayers, and trust Him for all their needs as they work and pray. Through the teaching of Christian Religious Studies, students take decisions and develop their mind on how to withstand the emotional problems associated with every day-to-day life. Christian Religious Studies therefore, becomes a worthwhile school activity because of the values it has for the society. Eluu (2009) added that the teaching of Christian religious studies in school also leads pupils to raise fundamental questions relating life and existence. For examples, who is God? Does God exist? Where is God? Why am I here? What is going to be my end? What am I supposed to do? Etc. the transmission of acceptable moral standards in the society cannot be over emphasized. Through the teaching of CRS subject, children are encouraged to express their faith and to develop talents and thus prepare themselves for useful living in the society (FRN, 2004). Ali and Akubue in Njoku (2009) maintained that the curriculum aims of CRS is to develop and foster in the life of the students Christian attitudes and values such as respect for life, obedient to constituted authority, responsible self, selfless services to God and humanity. They further said that CRS is an academic discipline that aims at providing learner with moral and spiritual transformation. The teaching and learning of CRS in secondary schools in Nigeria has the following objective of Christian religious studies. These are:
- To inculcate the knowledge of the Bible and fear of God in the Learner.
- Inculcate moral virtue in learners.
- Need to develop tolerance for other religions.
- Creating a disciplined society and responsible citizenry.
- Development of integrated, spiritual potentials and problem solving abilities (Okoro, 2010:40). It is expected that for these objectives to be achieved, adequate teaching and learning strategy and method is required hence, it is the surest means of cultivating and shaping the students’ behaviour. This idea on how to achieve the objective of CRS in schools has made the federal government of Nigeria in her national policy on education of 2004 specifically state moral or religion instructions should be taught in school through the study of the biographies of great people, studies and practices of Religion, discipline, games and other activities that involves term work (FME, 2004:20).
2.5 THE TEACHING OF MORAL VALUES
Morals are principles or standards of good behaviour. According to the Wikipedia free Encyclopedia (2008) morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behaviour) has three principal meanings. In its first descriptive usage, morality means a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong. Morals are created and define by society, philosophy, religion, or individual. In its second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. To deny ‘morality’ in this sense is a position known as moral skepticism. In its third usage, ‘morality’ is synonymous with ethics, the systematic philosophical study of the moral domain. Morals define the pattern of behaviour that the society wants from the people. Certain behaviours are considered to be undesirable. For most societies, however, morals are not written in stone, or proclaimed by God above, but instead reflect local sensibilities. Different societies have different ideas about what is acceptable and not acceptable. There are only a relative few behaviors (usually including murder, and various forms of abuse, including incest and adult-child sexual contact of any sort) that are university despised by stable societies (Dombeck and Wells-moran, 2008). People are not born understanding their society’s morals. Instead, these understandings develop and mature over time. According to Kohlberg, cited in Dombeck and Wells-Moran (2008), infants have little or no moral sense, because they are not born with an understanding of the nature of human relationships. As children reach elementary school age, they enter into the first major stage of moral understanding, known as the preconventional stage. Pre-conventional children are essentially selfish in orientation. They do not think about what behaviours will serve the greater good, but rather think in terms of what will most benefit them. They respond primarily and think of morality as a matter of following rules so as to avoid punishment. As children grow into adulthood, they typically enter into the stage of conventional moral understanding. Some children will be developmentally delayed in this regard and becomes adults who have the moral understanding of children; we call them sociopaths, narcissists, and anti-social personalities. The majority of people that do make it to the conventional moral understanding start thinking in terms of duty; a duty to promote the greater good. They orient towards behaviours that are most likely to gain other people’s respect and admiration. Part of conventional morality is the duty to behave lawfully. Some people take this duty further and understand it as a duty to conform to what other influential people around them want. Many adults never actually achieve the final stage of morality, known as post-conventional morality, mostly because in order to get there, people have to throw off their sense of duty to what others around them wants, and reinvest their moral sense in higher principles, such as (but not limited to) “honesty”, “reciprocity”, and “social welfare”. Such people become willing to take unpopular stances and make unpopular decision simply because those decisions represent the right thing to do. Every society, primitive or modern, has established means of inculcating in the young ones, the acceptable values of the society. This is the reason why Falade (2010) argued that the Yoruba, like other communities in Africa adopts multidimensional approaches in inculcating values that are cherished in the society. The teaching of moral values in the school system has become an important area of focus in the recent time in Nigeria and some other parts of the world. Education, which is a lifelong process, is a tool for human moral development. In trying to curb the negative trend of morality among children in the society, the home and school have the stronger influence than the church or mosque. To reduce the non-adherence to morality in the society to manageable level, a vital constituent of an effective moral learning experience need to be developed for schools (Ajere, 2006). The responsibility of inculcating values in the youth rests squarely on the nation’s school. The school curricular is expected to articulate learning experiences that can promote moral values in the student (Iyamu and Otote, 2003). This is the reason why the teaching of morals, values and social norms has been integrated into different school subjects like religious study, social studies, civic education and health education.
2.6 THE TEACHING OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE (CRK) IN NIGERIA SECONDARY SCHOOLS
According to the Wikipedia free Encyclopedia (2008) religions study, or religious education, is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviours, and institutions. It describes compares, interprets and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically-based, and cross-cultural perspectives. While theology attempts to understand God, religious studies try to study human religious behaviours and beliefs from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious study draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion. Religious study originated in the nineteenth century, when scholarly and historical analysis of the Bible had flourished, and Hindu and Buddhist texts were first being translated into European languages. Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Muller in England and Cornelius P. Tiele in the Netherlands. Today religious studies are practiced by scholars worldwide (Wikipedia free Encyclopedia, 2008) Western education as well as Christian religious education came to Nigeria through the activities of the Christian missionaries. Missionary schools were then set up as means of teaching those who had been converted into Christianity. Orebanjo (1992) opined that the missionaries were interested solely in the work of evangelization. They however discovered that in order to be successful, they needed to educate the people to enable them to read the Bible and some religious books. The Christian missionaries concentrated their attention on the Nigerian adolescence or pre-adolescence because they believed that the young’s were pliable. The first classes were held in missionary’s homes. After the establishment of primary schools, there was demand for post-primary institutions. This demand was met in 1876 when the first secondary school (C.M.S. Grammar School) was founded in Lagos (Jayeola-Omoyeni, 2000). Since then, Christian religious knowledge has been one of the school subjects in Nigeria. Today, CRK is a compulsory subject for students in primary and junior secondary schools. The subject is also taught at the senior secondary school level. Adeyinka, Okeke and Orebanjo (1991) identified the objectives of CRK as:
- To provide opportunity for the students to learn more about God and further grow in faith in God
- To enable students accept Christ as their Saviour
- To enable students accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their daily activities
- To enable students accept Christ as the founder and sustainer of the Christian church
- To help students understand the basic teachings of Christ and to apply these to their daily lives and work
- To develop and foster in the lives of the students values such as humility, respect, love, kindness, justice, fair-paly, spirit of forgiveness, obedience, devotion to duty, orderly behaviour and selfless service to God and humanity
- To prepare the youth for higher education and for service within the community.
The Junior Secondary CRK syllabus has been designed to enable learners to acquire the values state above. Some of the contents in the syllabus through which the expected values can be acquired are:
- Important values in human relationship. This concept defines the meaning of values and identifies some important values in human relationship i.e. love, unity, forgiveness, endurance, peace, patience, cooperation etc.
- Sharing of hope, interest and fear. The concept teaches open-mindedness and friendliness. It encourages students to share their hope, interest and fear with others rather than living a solitary life.
- Parable about our attitude to possessions. The parable of the rich fool, the rich man and Lazarus are related to learners. This is to teach about the danger of craze for wealth and the need for them to assist others with their possessions.
- The unfaithfulness of Ananias and Saphira. Students are to learn this story and bring out the moral lessons which include: danger of unfaithfulness, repercussion of lying and the need for truthfulness.
- Unity and charity in the early church. This concept teaches the importance of unity among Christians. It also encourages learners to be hospitable by sharing whatever they have with others.
The concepts identified above show that the CRK syllabus for JSS contains relevant moral issues and instructions that can assist learners to acquire values that are cherished in the society. However, the conduct of some secondary school students in Nigeria shows that the teaching of moral values in the school has little or no effect on the learners.
2.7 PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE TEACHING OF MORAL VALUES IN JSS CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE CLASSES
The teaching of moral values is faced with a lot of problems in our JSS classes. Some of the associated problems include:
- Problem of adopting the conventional method in the teaching of moral values. The conventional method of teaching is adopted by JSS teachers in Nigerian schools. This method is characterized by indoctrination, memorization and rote learning. The method encourages learners to memorize and recite facts and values laden issues mainly to succeed in examination. Students are not stimulated to develop and demonstrate the inherent morals or values in the concepts that learnt. Orebanjo (1992) discovered that in many schools, Bible teaching meant rote learning which involved reading and memorization of selected passages. The poor quality of teaching and learning is grossly responsibly for examination malpractice, cultism and other social misconducts among the students.
- Inability of some of the teachers to live by examples. Bad role model is another major problem confronting the teaching of moral values in our schools. There are cases of indiscipline acts among teachers. Examples of such acts are: lateness to school, selfishness and laziness. Ajere (2006) expressed that a number of teachers at primary and secondary schools are intellectually deficient and bankrupt. Their secondary engagements have superseded the professional calling thereby jeopardizing the expectation of teaching and learning.
- Negative peer-influence. The peer group has great influence on its members. Some secondary school students joint bad groups in the school which have negative influence on their behaviours.
- Wide spread of moral laxity in the entire Nigerian society. There is wide spread of immoral behaviours in the Nigerian society. There are cases of dishonesty, disrespect, disobedience, selfishness and covetousness among Nigerians
2.8 PROSPECTS OF TEACHING MORAL ISSUES IN THE CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE SYLLABUS
The teaching of moral and social values through the various school subjects in our schools reveals that there is hope for the future of the Nigerian society. If the values that are inherent in the JSS Christian religious knowledge syllabus are acquired by the learners, it will help them to grow up and become obedient, just, fair, honest, forgiving, loving and caring citizens. This can help in solving problems of dishonesty, disobedience, injustice, disunity, corruption, intolerance and selfishness that characterize the Nigeria socio-economic and political system. Religious study must be learnt when the children are young with the soft and absorbent mine ready to absorb the ethical teachings from the religions. In this jet world of trouble and frustration, the only sure place of solace for man is God. Generally, religious study is closely associated with the inculcation of moral values in youths. When the youths are exposed to the moral teachings of religions at a tender age, it trains them to be obedient and fear God who is capable of punishing evil doers (Orebanjo, 1992). To ensure that moral and religious instructions are not meant merely for rote learning, the teaching and learning of values should involve values analysis. The rote learning method commonly used in our secondary schools has faced a lot of criticisms. Hence the following means are imperative for the inculcation of moral values in the learners.
Values clarification approach; The teaching of value laden concepts can best be done through values clarification. The teacher can adopt values clarification approach by helping/leading students to understand their values through self-exploration and examination of values. It does not teach a particular set of values, but rather, it helps learners to use rational thinking to examine their personal moral values and resolve value conflicts
Constructivist approach This approach negates the teacher-centered teaching methods that are common in our schools today. The constructivist approach posits that the teacher/instructor should encourage learners to discover principles by themselves. This involves collaborative activities where groups of students interact and help each other to learn. Learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge, but the involvement of the learners in discovery and problem-solving tasks
Informal Approach Formation of school clubs can be useful in helping learners to acquire and demonstrate values that are taught in the classroom. The teacher can guide and stimulate students to form clubs like charity club, chaste club, ethic club etc. Students could be motivated to form these clubs on their own. Falade (2007) pointed out that secondary school students can form clubs on their own if they are stimulated to do so. Their involvement in club formation will help them to acquire moral values and interpersonal skills like respect, trust, honestly, fairness, justice, empathy, openness and tolerance.
2.9 TEACHER’S INSTRUCTIONAL STYLES/STRATEGY AND STUDENT’S ACHIEVEMENT IN CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Njoku (2009) investigated the strategies for enhancing Christian religious studies in secondary schools in Ebonyi state. The study adopted summary design and questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. Simple random supply techniques were used to draw fifty (50) teachers from all the secondary schools in Abakaliki urban. Arithmetic mean was also used to analyze the data collected with questionnaire. The results of the study revealed that teachers of CRS in secondary schools in Ebonyi state use traditional method of talk and chalk as well as lecturing, there is low interest of students in the subject due to teachers instructional delivery, use of appropriate techniques, methods and skills is an effective ways of improving Christian religious studies in secondary schools in Ebonyi state. Based on this finding, it is important to find out if the use of role-play method as a modern instructional strategy can help to improve student knowledge in CRS in schools. Hence the present study. Afikinkpan (1995) investigated the effect of student’s attitude towards Christian religious knowledge in North and Bossa Local Government Area of Plateau state. The study was aimed at determining the extent to which the attitude of students is related to their performance in the subjects. The study adopted descriptive summary. The population of the study was three hundred (300). Questionnaires were used as the instrument for data collection. Simple percentage statistics were used to analyze the data. The results of data analyzed showed that students attitude towards the subject was generally positive. There was significant relationship between the students’ attitude towards CRS and their performance in the subject. The positive attitude is attributed to good teaching method, availability of teaching and learning materials, encouragement while location of schools, school type accounted for different attitude of students’ socio-economic status and religious denomination were inconsequential. These findings show that good teaching method has a positive effect on students’ achievements. Therefore, the present study shall find out if the utilization of role-play method can improve students’ performances in secondary schools. Malgwi (1995) investigated the teaching method used by teachers in teaching in College of Education in Borno state. All the 12 teachers in the college were involved. Four hypotheses were postulated and simple percentage was used to analyze the data collected for the study. Questionnaire, direct observation, documentary services and interview schedules were used for the collection of data. The results revealed that: the more qualified and experienced a teacher is the more effective he is in teaching of CRS in college of education; trained teachers are in a better position to understand the aims and objectives of CRS in college of education and schools; and there were differences in the teaching methods used by trained and untrained teachers but how it is applied determine student’s academic achievement in school. These findings show that the extent to which teachers use role-play in the teaching of CRS can be determined by their qualification and his instructional qualities displayed in the classroom.