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Religious Education

24-313 | Monday, 3:30 p.m. | Helios
Session Chair: Wanda Alberts

Ahmed Khalid

Islamic Learning in Adamawa, Northern Cameroon Between Tradition and Innovation:The Life and Career of Sheikh Mohammed Aly Dewa (1941-2013)

Sheikh Mohammed Ali Dewa (1941-2013) is probably one of the most influential Muslim scholars in modern Cameroon. The spread of the Wahhabi-Salafi ideology in northern Cameroon owes a great deal to him, a “hybrid” scholar, trained traditionally in Cameroon and modernly in Medina (1962-1969). Mohammed Aly devoted his career in reconciling the traditional way of learning with the modern one. This paper aims at exploring his long-life struggle in educating Muslims in the country through the Islamic Institute of Ngaoundere. It examines the roots of his religious thought and educational background and investigates how he was able to influence his society and appraises to what extent he was successful or otherwise in implementing his ideas.

Laila Kadiwal

Addressing Sectarianism in Muslim Societies: An innovative pedagogical approach to Muslim education

How do Muslims relate to the Muslim ‘other’? In light of “new sectarianism” sweeping through in many parts of the Muslim societies today, this question requires greater attention than ever. Current scholarship does not sufficiently take account of novel pedagogical developments in Muslim education. This thesis investigates a group of Shia Ismaili Muslim trainee-teachers’ attitudes to plurality in their religious education programme. The Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) is a two-year postgraduate course of the Ismaili Muslim community to train religious education teachers. The study shows that initially, the participants were inclusive of other Muslim communities and worldviews on ‘theological’, ‘humanistic’ and ‘instrumental’ grounds, but were selective about how they embraced them. Gradually, STEP’s ‘civilizational, normative and humanistic’ approach cultivated an ‘academically informed pluralism’ in most trainee-teachers. It cultivated in the participants a degree of ‘intra-Islam competence’. The individuals were not ‘pluralist angels’, but they discursively participated in pluralism.

Riina Keto-Tokoi

The Status of Religion in the Turkish Educational System after Autumn 2012

In Turkey the ruling party, Adalet ve Kalkınma partisi (AKP), introduced a new 4+4+4 educational system in the spring 2012, and launched it in the autumn 2012. I will examine how it has changed the status of religion in the educational system. I will scrutinize this change by providing three examples from my fieldwork conducted in the autumn 2014: 1) opening the middle school level İmam Hatip -schools 2) adding optional religious lessons to the middle school curricula and 3) allowing the use of headscarf from 5th grade on. These changes in the educational system provoke following questions: how do these changes effect on the nationalistic mission of the educational system? How does this effect on the construction of Turkishness in the educational system? By answering these questions I will examine what kind of role religious discourse has in constructing Turkishness in the educational system.

Zuzana Cerna

Reflection on Religion and Education with Emphasis on the Analysis of Czech Textbooks for Secondary Lever

In Western Europe the role of religion in the process of education had begun to be discussed at the end of the sixties, but its importance has substantially increased since the event if 11th September 2001. The instruction in religion has become one of the main goals of Council of Europe, as well as those of researches across Europe. Not only the implementation of information about religion into primary and secondary schooling in European countries, but also developing suitable approaches useable in different countries have become the purpose of various Recommendations published by Council of Europe. Through the whole of Europe we can today identify three essential approaches towards the role of religion in education. The first is teaching religion as such (confessional education), where a particular religion is presented from the inside viewpoint. The second is teaching about religion, where the pupils are informed about various religions, independently of any particular tradition. The last one is called teaching from religion, where the pupils become the core of education through answering existential questions. Pedagogical approaches such as the interpretive approach invented by the team of Robert Jackson, integrative religious education suggested by Wanda Alberts, or Ethnographic approach by Eleanor Nesbitt declare themselves as impartial approaches towards particular religion, based on the scientific results of Religious Studies. What may be interesting for the Czech environment is the fact that part of those educational approaches is sharing various religious experiences among students. Some authors such as R. Jackson and W. Alberts present their approaches with some changes as applicable in various countries all over the world. Through the analyses of chosen Czech schoolbooks I examine the methodological ground of the above mentioned approaches. I reflect on the problem of religion in general and show that despite the common assumption, religion is not a universal phenomenon. It is, though, a primarily accepted universalism of religion, which allows authors to raise the demand for universal application of their methodology. I suggest that this notion of universalism is rooted in Christianity, therefore the developed approaches are not religiously impartial, but religion is only covert. I also show that eurocentrism, which has been stressed in the criticism of western authors, has been in Czech textbooks connected with Christianity till nowadays. Furthermore, despite the proclamation of Czech atheism, I will show how important role religion plays in the Czech analyzed textbooks.