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Swaziland orders schools to teach only Christianity

Kingdom of Swaziland flag flies on a mast by a public school on January 22, 2017 in Mbabane, Swaziland. Swaziland's schools opened for the new academic year on January 24, 2017 under new government orders to teach only Christianity, a move criticised by opponents as fuelling intolerance of Muslims. Officials said that old text books were being replaced with new ones that mention only the Bible, and that schools were required to submit a list of qualified religious studies teachers ahead of the start of term. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Kingdom of Swaziland flag flies on a mast by a public school on January 22, 2017 in Mbabane, Swaziland.<br />Swaziland’s schools opened for the new academic year on January 24, 2017 under new government orders to teach only Christianity, a move criticised by opponents as fuelling intolerance of Muslims. Officials said that old text books were being replaced with new ones that mention only the Bible, and that schools were required to submit a list of qualified religious studies teachers ahead of the start of term. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Swaziland’s schools opened for the new academic year on Tuesday under new government orders to teach only Christianity, a move criticised by opponents as fuelling intolerance of Muslims.

Officials said that old text books were being replaced with new ones that mention only the Bible, and that schools were required to submit a list of qualified religious studies teachers ahead of the start of term.

“Other religions will not be offered at primary and high school level,” said Pat Muir, a top education ministry official, adding that the policy sought to avoid confusing pupils.

“At tertiary level they will be able to make a decision to learn about other religions,” he said.

Some surveys put Swaziland’s Muslim population as high as 10 percent, but the US Department of State in 2015 put the figure at about two percent.

Many Swazis combine Christianity with indigenous beliefs, and religious freedoms are written into the country’s 2005 constitution.

The education ministry last week instructed all head teachers to ensure that the syllabus would not mention any religion other than Christianity, including Islam and Judaism.

Sahid Matsebula, a Swazi-born Muslim who works for a mosque near the capital Mbabane, said the government’s policy could worsen religious friction in the southern African nation.

“What plan does the government have in place for our children who are not Christian?” he told AFP.

“They will be taught one thing at home and taught something else at school.”

– ‘Discrimination’ –
The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report said some schools have long sought to prevent Muslim pupils from leaving early for Friday prayers.

It also said some Christian groups “discriminated against non-Christian religious groups, especially in rural areas where people generally held negative views on Islam.”

The new education policy comes after public complaints over Asian and Muslim migration into the country led parliament to set up a commission of enquiry last year.

Some illegal migrants have since been deported, and Minister of Commerce and Trade Jabulani Mabuza told parliament that a law making it harder for foreigners to set up businesses in Swaziland was in the pipeline.

Church leaders in Swaziland welcomed the Christianity-only syllabus.

“Christianity is the bedrock religion on which this country was built,” said Stephen Masilela, president of the Swaziland Conference of Churches.

Swaziland, with a population of about 1.2 million, has been ruled by King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, since 1986.

The country suffers dire poverty and has struggled to lift its economy, and has faced international criticism that the government stifles dissent, jails its opponents and denies workers’ rights.

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Swaziland


5 Comments
  • Emmy

    I am not sure in some predominantly Muslim states across the globe that other religion is officially taught at government run schools. I agree with the Swazi govt not because it’s the religion I practice but because it has give itself a religious identity unlike the society I live in. Anything goes. Every can do injustice and call it allowed in its religion. Stop the confusion before it becomes some madness of a sort

    • Mohd Sageer

      U r fanatic

  • babalede

    @Emmy you seem to be biased no peace loving country ever does that, where certainly there are percentage of Muslim in the country. If it were to be otherwise I wonder what could have been your reaction.

    • Military rule returns

      tell me where in saudi, iran or iraq that any other religion apart from islam is taught

  • Ids

    This shows how bias we are in nigeria. Thousands of christian are being killed in the northern part of the country and Guardian news paper have nothing to post about it and yet was critical of not teaching islam in schools in another country. Which is more important to us? Our prople that are being killed in the north because they are not muslim or the fact that islam cant be thought in another country. If you so much like to post foreign issue, you should be on the fore front of publishing the christian killings in the northen nigeria.

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