West Africans should learn to inculcate religious tolerance in their children early in life should the sub-region wants to be rid of insecurity and religious upheavals.
The advice was given by a Cabo Verdean scholar, Dr Jairzinho Lopes Pereira at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament delocalised meeting of committees on Education, Science and Culture; Health; Telecommunications and Information Technology, in Praia, Capital of Cape Verde.
According to Pereira, school children must be taught the value of tolerance if the sub-region albeit the continent is to overcome the plague called religious intolerance.
He said it is only through inclusive education that the plague of intolerance, especially religious intolerance can be overcome as it has become deep-rooted while stressing that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on any other person.
He added that the sub-region must change its approach to addressing religious intolerance by inculcating the virtue of tolerance in children, insisting that this would help mould the way they grow to accept and tolerate others from different faiths.
He said: “The key is through education, as parliamentarians permit me to say, it is your responsibility to promote and support all efforts targeted at teaching children in school the virtue of tolerance. Please be bold and make history. Never in support of politics if tolerance has to change a country from top to bottom and I believe that education is key and it is only through inclusive education that Africa dreams of ridding itself of the spectre of religious violence which has been raging for some time now.
“Religious intolerance, ladies and gentlemen, is for brute tyrants. No one, I mean, no one has the right to impose religious beliefs on others in their aeronautical dispute.”
The scholar stressed that “the belief that one is entitled to his rights is the origin of all evils.”
He, therefore, explained that: “Being tolerant is to be willing to admit that others have the same right to choose and to make that choice as I, as you and all of us do. Being tolerant means standing by one’s own belief, while condemning the opposition or persecution of others.”
He noted that this is what Africa needs to inculcate in the minds of its children.
“Honourable parliamentarians, I beg of you to promote just that. Back an educational system in which children will be taught to preserve their own beliefs and identities while respecting those who are different and I promise you a glowing future awaits our great continent,” he pleaded.
He pointed out that if the western world where one could find some of the most atrocious and Procedures Act of intolerance could overcome its own religious intolerance, it is also possible for the sub-region with deliberate efforts.
He said: “If we look to the history of the West, we see centuries of senseless slaughters, sometimes ignited by religious differences, just like now we see in Africa. But ladies and gentlemen, the West has overcome those barriers. We can also do the same, let’s not postpone peace and prosperity in Africa. We deserve better. Let us be tolerant. It is our duty to be tolerant. Let’s hoist the flag of religious tolerance.”