THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN CURBING MORAL DECADENCE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN CURBING MORAL DECADENCE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
Christian Religious Studies in Nigeria cannot be mentioned without the advent of Christian missionaries. Their activities pioneered it as a discipline to be studied among other subjects in schools and colleges. Its subject matter is about God, who is the source of existence. The activities of preaching the gospel went along with the establishment of schools where converts and children (adolescents) were instructed on matters of faith and practice (Fafunwa, 1974).
It was the belief of the missionaries that the knowledge of the scriptures and response of their converts in faith would automatically lead their converts to a practical moral life, as it is instructive to know that Christianity as a religion is founded on the basis of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ who came and died on the cross for the salvation of mankind. It is in view of this that the scriptures tell us in (Acts 11:26) that the followers of Jesus Christ who went about spreading the gospel of Christ after he had ascended to Heaven, were first called Christians in Antioch. This was because their lives resembled the life of Jesus Christ. Hence, they were named after Christ as Christians. Against these background, one may not be misled to say that the concept of morality lies at the heart of the Christian Religious Education, this is owing to the fact that Christian Religious Studies hopes or tries to inculcate in students principles and standard of behaviour that are considered right and acceptable to God.
The concept of morality is concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour, it should be noted that morality is a highly controversial concept which is subject to many interpretations and understandings. This is because what is right for one, may not be right for another. So when one talks of morality, the question that most people would be ready to ask is “whose morality?” however, it should be noted that morality in this study will be treated within the context of Christian Religious Studies. Hence what is right and what is wrong will be viewed from the perspective of the Bible.
The National Policy on Education (NPE) (2004) articulates that teaching of Christian Religious Education must be wholesome i.e. faith with morality as the only way by which the citizenry could be led to meaningful and responsible life in the society. Thomas (1996) on the role of religion in character development ispositive that religion can contribute to good character development if it is taught and accepted in a certain way. Religious education therefore, is a source of inspiration and empowerment to lead a good moral life.
Students of secondary schools in Nigeria fall between the adolescent stages. Santrock (2005) sees adolescence as the period between the ages of about ten (10) and thirteen (13) to the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty two (22). During these periods, there are various social personality developments. Attention is devoted to identify formation with questions such as “who am i?” and “what do I want out of life?” the adolescence period s ladder with crisis of identity and challenges of trying to fit in, that if not properly managed can spell doom to such an adolescent. Hence the need for proper and adequate moral education which is obviously a distinctive role of Christian Religious Education. The adolescent faces a changing and troubled period in their human development in which their identity and values are formed and so need a special attention, from a psychological point of view, it has been established that the impression of early childhood plays a decisive role in the subsequent development of man, desiring and achieving social responsibility and acquiring a set of values and ethical system as a guide to behaviour (Denga, 2004).
Adolescence therefore, is a critical stage in the development of man, it is also critical because whatever is formed of this stage is permanent. What this means is that a great deal of our character and behaviour which would be instrumental in our later development of life is formed at this stage and once formed, they become permanent. In view of these, one will not be wrong to argue following our earlier submission that Christian Religious Education has a great role to play in developing morality in students of secondary schools, this is because it teaches them how to behave and live right (righteously) as they grow in the society to which they belong.
Supporting the above, Proverbs 22:6 says “train up a child in the way he should grow and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” The implication of this is that any child (adolescent) who lacks moral education at his/her adolescence stage, is bound to suffer immoral behaviour in their later life.
To every morally-minded person, the situation in our secondary schools today regarding morality is disheartening, worrisome, pathetic and lamentable, one could only imagine with this atmosphere what will become of the situation in no distant future, should nothing be done to reverse the trend. This is in view of the moral decay evident in our schools, where students take part in social vices ranging from smoking of cigarettes, taking and abusing drugs, especially tramol, leading to drug addiction, examination malpractices, truancy and the other forms of delinquencies such as stealing, lying and sexual offences, etc. These and many more unmentioned continue to threaten the educational sector and impinge on the development of the right social values which promotes dignity, orderliness, growth, peace and development in the society.
Pankshin youths and adolescents mostly have suffered a long period of social and economic neglect from parents and the government. In 2015, Plateau State declared a state of emergency on education which led to a long strike of public primary and secondary schools as well. In respect to that, these affected most of the adolescents in remote areas of Pankshin Local Government. Parents to some extent neglected students and had no regard to caution their behaviour about morality i.e. adolescents are left to go about anyhow and some don’t even sleep at home because they claim to hang out with friends for moonlight stories rather than reading their books. Research has shown that some of the students indulge in premarital sex which leads to unwanted pregnancies and also for boys, they learn how to start abusing drugs and sometimes stealing people’s properties.
Boarding students sneak out of school during traditional festivals i.e. Morgi, Mos-Lun and Pus-Dung. Most adolescents in Pankshin prefer going after these masquerades during its festival and carnivals than attending church programmes like crusades, carols, revivals, etc. As mentioned above, some boarding students sneak out of school in the night to go clubbing and parties due to the fact that some might have learned it since at home due to poor parental upbringing. Denga (2001) maintained that youthful energy is bottled up in adolescents due to their developmental characteristics. When adolescent lack the avenue to discharge such surplus energy, they will vent for excessive negative ways in crime, cultism, violence, etc.
Vices common among adolescents in Pankshin include drinking “burukutu” a locally made alcohol during the traditional festivals as well as imitating the masquerades which often leads to their initiation tosome of the traditional rituals and introduction to shrines. Social media is another challenge to students of secondary schools in Pankshin. Adolescents tend to cope and copy the latest fashion trending the media by imitating some musicians, actors and actresses negatively (Denga, 2001). No wonder they have interest in auditioning with full enthusiasm during social Nights, Literature ay, social day, etc than having interest to play part in FCS tours, New Life for All (Sabon Rai) programmes, etc, but leaving only the junior students to partake in that one.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Students of the adolescent age learn best and fast because the brain is flexible to institutions, socially. This is the time when hero worship is strong and the time when they begin to show leadership as well as willingness to follow a leader traits. However, the moral decadence seems to have taken hold of the adolescents and youths in Pankshin. The indecent dressing of these adolescents permissible by parents and society today, is no doubt a reflection of moral decay.
Most of the moral decadence in our society today can be traced back to poor parental upbringing, but not all cases could be attributed to that because some of the students (adolescents) have received the best home training any child could get. This study considers the role of the school curriculum of Christian Religious Studies among Secondary school students for their moral upbringing. It questions the sufficiency of the subject and projects its adequacies as a panacea to moral decadence among secondary school students in Pankshin Local Government.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
This study aims:
1. To investigate factors that cause moral decadence among students.
2. To ascertain the effects of moral decadence on the students and society at large.
3. To identify the methodology used by Christian Religious Education in moral instruction.
4. To proffer solutions on how moral decadence among students (adolescents) can be remedied through proper instruction in Christian Religious Studies.
1.4 Research Questions
Arising from the problems stated above, some vital questions are postulated:
1. What are the factors that cause moral decadence among students?
2. What are the implications of moral decadence on the adolescents (students) and the society at large?
3. How adequate is Christian Religious Studies for helping the moral upbringing of students?
4. What role does Christian Religious Studies play in curbing moral decadence among students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The importance of this research cannot be overemphasized especially now that society is moving towards damnation. It stands to make knowledge by helping one to better appreciate the role of Religious education especially Christian Religious Studies in moral upbringing among young people.
Secondly, the research will help in addressing the issue of moral decay among students and society at large. Furthermore, the information that will come from this study will constitute an important source of reference to policy makers and researchers who subsequently wish to research in this area.
1.6 Research Hypothesis
Ho: Christian Religious Studies has no significant impact in shaping the moral stand of adolescents.
Ha: Christian Religious Studies has a significant impact in shaping the moral stand of adolescents
1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study by design sets out to investigate the role of Christian Religious Studies in moral upbringing in adolescents (students). The research will not be comprehensive study on general morality but will only try to understand how moral upbringing in students is made effective through Christian Religious Studies.
Consequently, the study will be limited to Pankshin Local Government Area. The selected secondary schools will be used as samples:
1. Community secondary School Tambes
2. Trinity Missionary College Pankshin
3. Langkuk Memorial Comprehensive School
4. Government Secondary School Pankshin
5. Government Secondary school Bet
6. St. Benedicts Seminary School
7. Solid Foundation G.R.A Pankshin
8. Community Secondary School Bwarak
9. Good Shepherd College Fwor
10. Anglican High School Pankshin
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Impact: A significant or strong influence that can affect someone positively or negatively.
Christian: People who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal savior from sin and eternal life after death.
Religious: Connected with a particular religion which is backup with religious beliefs/faith, religious education and religious instructions are bind to it.
Studies: A deliberate and carefully planned programme to acquire knowledge on a subject.
Moral: A role or habit of control with regard to right or wrong.
Secondary School: school for young people between the ages of 11, 16 and 18.
Student: A person who is studying at a school, especially a secondary school.
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