14. MARGINALIZATION OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA: THE WAY FORWARD
Emeka C. Ekeke Ph. D
Elizabeth O. John – Department of Religious and Cultural Studies
University of Calabar, Calabar.
Religious studies have over the years been experiencing a series of marginalization in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This seems to be as a result of a new trend globally and it tends to question the relevance, importance and contribution of Religious Studies to national development. The various governments of the world, including Nigeria, funding agencies, multi-national corporations, educational institutions and parents seem to have adopted this phantasm, thereby starving it of the needed funds, not including it in scholarship/grant programmes, not seeking admission for their children/wards, and not giving them an increased quota in admission. The reason may be because of the wrong notion that science and technology, to the exclusion of all other fields, are omnipotent in solving human problems while religion will ultimately phase out. This paper examined this dastardly trend following qualitative research methodology which involves the analysis of scholarly contents within its reach. It also interviewed respondents who are scholars and students from Religious Studies and other fields of study to ascertain their views on the issue. It was discovered that no society has ever progressed, developed or had interpersonal relationship without religion. It is argued that the hypocrisy associated with the so-called secularity in our constitution and society is destroying religious fervour. That the study of religious studies is not the same as theology but a scientific study of religion (Religionswissenshaft) which affects every stratum of human endeavour including science, politics, economics, medicine and morality. The paper recommends, among others, that the National Universities Commission should treat all departments as equal in the area of admission quota, funding, etc. as no university programme is more important than the other. Also, international organisations such as the Commonwealth, UNESCO, UN, and others, should make adequate provision for scholarships and grants for students in religious studies as they do for the sciences.
Keywords: Marginalization, Religious Studies, Tertiary