Publishers group apologises for school textbook criticising Christian missionaries in Ghana

(Photo: Unsplash/Jessica Delp)

(CP) The Ghana National Association of Authors and Publishers has offered an apology and admitted to errors amid criticism from parents, educators and the country's deputy education minister for a textbook's negative depiction of the impact Christian missionaries have had on the country.

In a statement, the association offered an "unqualified apology" to the Ministry of Education, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Ghanaian Schools, Nananom, the Christian Council of Ghana and "any Ghanaian who find the statements obnoxious."

The book, titled "History of Ghana for Basic Schools, Learners Book 4," reportedly touches on what it describes as the negative consequences of Christian missionary activities and claims Christianity has led to an increase in poverty in the country, according to Ghana's largest English radio station JoyFM and MyJoyOnline.

The book also reported claims that "Christianity has led to an increase in poverty" and that "some religious doctrines brought by missionaries create a sense of fear or timidity."

Furthermore, the textbook asserts that religion is a major cause of physical conflict worldwide and that many religions discriminate against women.

According to MyJoyOnline, the book claimed that religion makes people lackadaisical about finding ways to improve their living conditions.

The book claims to teach that many politicians in Ghana use religion to cause disaffection among people to advance their political interest and that religion creates an avenue for many tricksters.

"[T]he points raised in the book were views or opinions of the author regarding the negative effects of the Christian missionaries in Ghana. However, we admit in part to the error of adherence to content requirements and suitability of content for the level it was intended for," the press statement from the Ghana National Association of Authors and Publishers reads. "The authors, we admit, should have remained faithful to the demands of the syllabus and stressed the impact of Christian missionaries rather than religion as a whole."

In a May 25 tweet, Ntim Fordjour, Ghana's deputy education minister, condemned the book as "obnoxious" and accused it of being "smuggled into the market for unsuspecting learners."

"The content is appalling and misconceived," Fordjour wrote. "I support NaCCA's swift action to recall the books and apply sanction. Ghana is most peaceful for a reason, and the important place of religion cannot be undermined."

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has called for an immediate recall of the book from the market.

However, Gifty Swum Ampofo, also a deputy minister for education, has said that while the textbook was approved by NaCCA, the contentious passages were not present at the time of the assessment, according to Ghana Web.

She expressed her bewilderment about how the textbook with anti-Christian commentary made its way to the market.

As of the 2021 census, Christianity is the predominant faith in Ghana, practiced by 71.3% of the population across numerous denominations. Meanwhile, Islam constitutes the religious beliefs of 19.9% of the nation's total populace.

Christianity was introduced to Ghana in the late 15th century by Portuguese traders who initially arrived on the coast in search of gold and other valuables. They built the first Christian chapel in Sub-Saharan Africa, named Elmina, in the coastal town of São Jorge da Mina.

However, it was not until the 19th century that Christian missionary activity substantially increased, led predominantly by Methodists and Anglicans from Britain.

These missionaries established schools, introduced formal education and translated the Bible into local languages.

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