Page 1, 15th October 1937

15th October 1937
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Page 1, 15th October 1937 — BRITISH AFRICA MISSIONS
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BRITISH AFRICA MISSIONS

THREATENED

Implication that " No Importance be Attached to Religious and Moral Instruction "

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THE BRITISH COLONIES HAS BEEN ENDANGERED BY THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION APPOINTED TO STUDY HIGHER EDUCATION IN EAST AFRICA.

This report is in startling contrast to the 1925 Memorandum of the Advisory Committee on Native Education in British Tropical Africa when it was stated that, in view especially of the religious character of the African, " the greatest importance should be attached to religious teaching and moral instruction, and that these subjects should be accorded an equal standing with secular subjects." The Government, acting on this principle, welcomed and encouraged all voluntary educational effort which conformed to general policy.

The late Mgr. Bidwell, Bishop of Miletopolis and Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Westminster, was a member of that Cornmittee, which also included the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool.

No religious member nor religious expert was included in the 1937 • Commission, unless it be Mr..Hanns Vischer, who served on the 1925 Committee and was appointed to the 1937 Commission, although he did not go to East Africa. Mr. Vischer was a member of the Church Missionary Society's Hausa Mission from 1900-1. Other members include Robert Bernays, long associated with the News Chronicle, Philippa Esdaile, Modern Scientific Educationist, B. Mouat Jones, Chemist and Technologist, and W. H. McLean, Town-Planning expert.

What Were They Doing?

The Catholic Herald. in its issue of October 1, printed extracts from Dr. John Murray's (a member of the Commission) vigorous dissociation from the Majority Report. Dr. Murray calls the Report " a break-away " from the work of the Missions, and further states that the

" proposal does not originate in substance on the spot, neither in the Education Department, where on close questioning 1 found no support for it whatever, nor among persons or bodies engaged on a responsible scale in educating, nor in public opinion, so far as it exists and voices itself." He describes the evidence in its favour as " of small amount and only moderate weight."

In view of this serious suggestion, what were the members of the Commission doing and how were they spending public money?

1925 Report—

The recommended policy for African education was stated by the 1925 Advisory Committee to be as follows:

" Education should strengthen the feeling of responsibility to the tribal community, .and, at the same time, should strengthen will power; should make the conscience sensitive both to moral and intellectual truth; and should impart some power of discriminating between good and evil, between reality and superstition.

" Since contact with civilisation—and even education itself—must necessarily tend to weaken tribal authority and the sanctions of existing beliefs, and in view of the all-prevailing belief in the super natural which affects the whole life of the African it is essential that what is good in the old beliefs and sanctions should be strengthened and what is defec tive should be replaced. The greatest importance must therefore be attached to religious teaching and moral instruction., " Both in schools and in training colleges they should be accorded an equal standing with secular subjects. Such teaching must be related to the conditions of life and to the daily experience of the pupils. It should find expression in habits of self-discipline and loyalty to the community. With such safeguards, contact with civilisation need not be injurious, or the introduction of new religious ideas have a disruptive influence antagonistic to constituted secular authority.

" History shows that devotion to some spiritual ideal is the deepest source of inspiration in the discharge of public duly. Such influences should permeate the whole life of the school."

(Continued on Page 9)

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