The impact of the current education crisis on the church

14 January 2022 | Opinion

BRANDON HAMMOND

Over the past few centuries, public education almost exclusively has been in the hands of the Church. For long, it has not only informed but also delivered curriculum content.

However, the gradual take-over of this noble endeavour by the secular state coincided with (if not resulted in) the Church taking a backseat.

Today education faces a global crisis of epidemic proportions. This holds particularly true for post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa.

Namibia is no exception. In fact, our children count among the poorest academic performers on the sub-continent. Whenever an education system fails, it invariably affects all spheres of society adversely. High dropout rates, inter alia, invariably result in unemployment and crime.

On the other hand, not all successful matriculants automatically qualify for tertiary studies. To complicate matters, there is growing concern about these school leavers’ level of employability.

The Church and, more specifically, our local parishes (across all denominations) will not escape the scourge of the current education crisis unscathed.

The ever-increasing number of children who cannot read fluently, let alone with comprehension, is fast becoming a national disaster.

This scenario has far-reaching consequences for the Church and her mission in the world. For starters, a child who cannot read, cannot read the Bible either – the only book where God reveals himself to Adam’s race. How could the Church be the “light of the world” when her own children are groping in darkness? What does God expect from us? The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) dictates, among others, that entire nations be discipled and taught.

The Namibian Church therefore has a responsibility towards the Namibian nation. Likewise, the local parish is responsible for the community in which it is situated. In the final analysis, the Church must prepare children (in the same fashion that Mordecai groomed Esther) “for such a time as this” and, by so doing, make our world a better place. To what extent are we ready for this? Shall we rise to the occasion? Eradicating analphabetism (both within and without) is but one of a few thorny issues the Namibian Church needs to negotiate – sooner rather than later.

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