If you were wondering why the nation of Uganda is so prone to thinking that putting gay people to death might actually be a good idea, look no further than this. Conor Robinson, one of our Pathfinders, writes about what they have discovered while working with the Kasese Humanist Primary School in that country. In government-funded schools, they are engaged in rather blatant Christian indoctrination.
The first time we came across a Religious Education exam at KHPS, we thought it must have been something one of the students brought from Sunday school. We didn’t think there was any way a school exam would require students to identify the Christian God as their creator (Figure 1).
Figure 1 shows a question from that test, which is given in all public schools in that country to 2nd year primary students. It says: “Who created you? (satan/God). In year 3, another question says: “Who is our savior?” The correct answer, of course, is Jesus. In year 2, they are asked to draw pictures of things in the world — fish, the sun, and so forth. The instruction reads: “Draw these things God created.” In primary 4, they are asked to match pictures with their names. The instruction reads: “Match these non-living things God created with their names.”
Had we known about Uganda’s Religious Education curriculum before arriving, we might have been less surprised to find that our interest in understanding others through their beliefs was regarded as strange. As it was, we were initially confused by the fact that KHPS students placed value on learning about the natural world but did not feel the need to learn about each other.
As the peacemakers of tomorrow, KHPS students need to realize that effectively helping others requires understanding them. The degree to which KHPS students internalize that idea will be the measure of our success.
After all, it is the same lesson we are learning ourselves.
Indeed. And it all goes to show just how important humanist schools are in Uganda and many other places.