Multi-faith religious education in Malawi & comparative analysis with Ghana

UK time 14:30 – 15:30 Malawi time 15:30 – 16:30
Location Zoom

Our Faith Forum met on 31st August 2022 to discuss multi-faith education in Malawi.

SMP Member, Dr Yonah Matemba highlighted what he sees as a challenge for teachers and lecturers in Malawi, that of implementing Multi-Faith Religious Education. This is a topic which is critically addressed in a book co-authored by Dr Matemba: “Religious Education in Malawi and Ghana: Perspectives on Religious Misrepresentation and Misclusion” (2021), which was launched at this event.

The Forum also heard from the book’s Co-Author, Dr Richardson Addai-Mununkum, Senior Lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of Education, Winneba, who shared Ghana’s experience of multi-faith education.

Dr Matemba is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and Social Sciences at the University of the West of Scotland and Chair of the SMP’s Further & Higher Education Forum.

The Forum was introduced by Stella Masangano (MaSP CEO) and chaired by David S. Bone. David was formerly Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi. David has taught and written extensively on religious education, producing teaching materials for Scotland and Malawi. Most recently David wrote the excellent textbook: "Introduction to Islam for Malawi"

Key quotes from the meeting included:

  • “We need inter-religious dialogue, not inter-religious conflict” Dr Yonah Matemba
  • “We need to give young people more than one lens to understand the world” Dr Richardson Addai-Mununkum

Dr Matemba identified five key challenges in religious education in Malawi:

  • Factual errors in what is taught
  • Conscious or unconscious bias in teachers
  • Inter and intra-religious exclusion
  • Value conflicts
  • Student mischaracterisation of religion ‘others’

There was a fascination ‘south-south-north’ comparison, between the experience of religious education in Malawi, Ghana and Scotland. One key issue identified in Malawi was that, following concerns in 2001, the Government of Malawi produced two different syllabuses for religious education in Malawi, a multi-faith syllabus and a bible knowledge syllabus, however most schools in Malawi have chosen to exclusively use the latter.

The SMP is keen to facilitate further constructive and respectful two-way sharing on this topic and we will reach out to the Minister of Education in Malawi and Education Scotland in Scotland to share this excellent discussion.