Some churches in the country have requested the government to reintroduce Bible studies in school as a means to combat immorality.
Currently there are arguments for and against Bible studies at school.
Those who are against Bible studies argue that the constitution classifies Namibia as a secular state, therefore it would not be appropriate to have schools teach the subject. Critics believe that teaching Bible studies in school will violate Article 1 (1) and Article 21 (b) (c) of the Namibian constitution and it will also not be acceptable to those who do not believe in any faith.
This topic was among the many issues raised by church leaders from various congregations when they met President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday.
Geingob had invited the church leaders to State House to engage them on serious issues of national concern such as gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, inequality and the land issue, among other matters.
However, Geingob raised concern about the mushrooming of churches in the country.
“Multiplication of churches is coming from the freedom we fought for. Your freedom of expression ends where other people’s starts. Some churches are not acceptable by government as they make people eat snakes and grass. Churches are also rich – what do they do with their money? In the past, the church schools gave people quality education,” Geingob noted.
Reverend Jan Fritz Gaweseb, the president of the Association of Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches of Namibia (ACPC), said schoolchildren abuse drugs and alcohol, hence the need to teach them Bible studies to change the status quo.
He said the association looks forward to the establishment of a department of moral and religious education within government.
“If such a directorate is there, we think we can be more efficient in assisting our government. I know it’s a burning issue in this country to bring back Bible studies in school. But we have to educate our kids on biblical and Christian principles so our kids have a foundation where they can stand. In other countries, people have their religious principles,” he reacted.
Ludwig Beukes, acting general secretary of the Council of Churches in Namibia, feels the inclusion of the Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) manual of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the school curriculum, both at primary and secondary school level, promotes immorality.
“This programme is going to destroy our children. This programme was introduced to SADC where our parliamentarians attended and they committed to it. They came back and the ministry of education introduced this programme, which is very destructive in terms of morality. We studied the curriculum and realised if this programme is going to be introduced then we have to set up more abortion clinics because those who developed the programme are in the US. It doesn’t have our values and cultural norms,” Beukes said.
He questioned why the government failed to do public consultation before introducing the programme.
He is of the opinion that the policy on teenage pregnancy encourages girls to get pregnant, saying it needs to be re-looked as it’s not preventive “but encouraging”.
Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said there is a need to have a consolidated approach on issues of immorality.
On teenage and learner pregnancies she said policies are in place to deal with these issues in school.
She dismissed the notion that these policies encourage teenage pregnancy.
She however welcomes a national dialogue on teenage pregnancy and immorality.
Attorney-General Albert Kawana reminded church leaders that in the 21st Century things have changed due to technology.
“When parents buy their children smartphones, then they have the world in their hands. Even at home these children lock themselves in the room and communicate with the rest of the world. Today’s children are very complicated. Some parents are scared as these kids can even commit suicide if scolded,” Kawana said.