INTERMEDIATE YORUBA: Language, Culture, Literature, and Religious Beliefs, Part II

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In more recent times, religion was a prime motivator in establishing U.

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The Scopes Monkey trial in further highlighted the rift between science and some branches of Christianity over the theory of evolution, a contentious relationship that endures even today. In sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, scholars describe how religious missionaries during colonial times were the prime movers in constructing educational facilities and influencing local attitudes toward education.

These missionary activities, the scholars conclude, have had a long-lasting positive impact on access to schooling and educational attainment levels in the region. Research by Baylor University sociologist Robert D. As a result, they established schools to promote literacy wherever they went and translated the Bible into indigenous languages. Woodberry and Nunn conclude, however, that Protestant and Catholic missionaries had differing results. Except where they were in direct competition with Protestant missionaries, Catholic missionaries concentrated on educating African elites rather than the masses, Woodberry observes.

And Nunn notes that Protestant missionaries placed greater stress than Catholics on educating women. As a result, Protestants had more long-term impact on the education of sub-Saharan African women. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago. This theoretical openness to scientific knowledge, however, did not always play out at the practical level within Buddhist communities, Asma contends.

Despite this tension between theory and practice, Buddhism has been a major influence on the educational systems of many places, especially India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Tibet. From around the fifth century onward, Buddhist monasteries emerged as centers of education, not just for monks but also for laymen.

Yoruba Culture and Religion

In India, the most famous of these educational centers — Nalanda, in what is now Bihar state — is said to have had 10, students from many different countries, and offered courses in what then constituted philosophy, politics, economics, law, agriculture, astronomy, medicine and literature. In Thailand, monastic schools located in Buddhist temples were the main source of education for male children for many centuries, though they offered primarily religious education.

When the Thai government introduced Western-style, secular education around the beginning of the 20th century, it used monastic schools as the vehicle for reaching the wider population. For Hindus, education vanquishes a fundamental source of human suffering, which is ignorance, says Anantanand Rambachan, a professor of religion at St.

Olaf College. Hindu scriptures urge adherents to seek knowledge through dialogue and questioning, and to respect their teachers. The Hindu esteem for education is reflected in different ways. To start with, the most authoritative Hindu scriptures are the Vedas, a word that comes from the Sanskrit root word vd , which means knowledge, Rambachan says.

University of Florida religion professor Vasudha Narayanan says Hindus regard two types of knowledge as necessary and worthwhile. The first, vidya, is everyday knowledge that equips one to earn a decent and dignified life. The second, jnana , is knowledge or wisdom that brings awareness of the divine. This is achieved by reading and meditating on Hindu scriptures.

Historically, the caste system in India was a huge barrier to the spread of mass literacy and education. Formal education was reserved for elite populations. But in the seventh and eighth centuries, the vernacular language of Tamil began to be used for religious devotion in southern India, which led to greater access to all kinds of knowledge for a wider group of people. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, both secular and religious education came to be seen by Hindus as a universal right, and it gradually began to be extended to all members of the faith. High levels of Jewish educational attainment may be rooted in ancient religious norms, according to some recent scholarship.

The Torah encourages parents to educate their children. This prescription was not mandatory, however, until the first century. Sometime around 65 C. A few years later, in the year 70, the Roman army destroyed the Second Temple following a Jewish revolt. Temple rituals had been a pillar of Jewish religious life.

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To replace them, Jewish religious leaders emphasized the need for studying the Torah in synagogues. They also gave increased importance to the earlier religious decree on educating sons, making it a compulsory religious duty for all Jewish fathers. Over the next few centuries, a formal school system attached to synagogues was established.

This religious obligation meant that male Jews, to a greater degree than their contemporaries, were literate, which gave them an advantage in commerce and trade. Jewish scholarship was enhanced in the early Middle Ages, beginning in the late sixth century, by the emergence of Talmudic academies of Sura and Pumbedita in what is now Iraq. In the late Middle Ages, centers of Jewish learning, including the study of science and medicine, emerged in what is today northern Spain and southern France.

Until the early 19 th century, however, most education of Jewish boys was primarily religious. This intellectual movement sought to blend secular humanism with the Jewish faith and to encourage openness to secular scholarship among Jews.

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At the same time, they were strong proponents of reforming Jewish education by including secular subjects, such as European literature and the natural sciences. This educational project often brought the reformists into conflict with more orthodox Jewish religious leaders. Some scholars have noted that from the Reformation onward, Protestant groups encouraged educating women, with effects that still resonate today.

Lake Forest College political scientist Fatima Z. This is not the case when family laws are based on more general Islamic precepts.


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In this regard, sociologists Darren E. While Darnell and Sherkat focus their research on Christians in the United States, their observations about how religious attitudes toward secular knowledge may affect attainment offer possible insights into attainment patterns seen in other religions and other parts of the world. Some scholars, however, hypothesize that higher levels of religious observance and engagement produce greater educational attainment. Ellison, in a study of U.

Lehrer observes that those who frequently attended religious services during adolescence completed one more year of schooling than their less observant peers.

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Strong social capital also is proposed by Paul Burstein, a sociologist at the University of Washington, as a topic needing further research to explain the high educational attainment of Jews. If this is true, one might expect higher percentages of religiously unaffiliated people in parts of the world with high educational attainment.

A sidebar in Chapter 3 explores data relating to this question, finding mixed results. As noted earlier in this report , the difference between Christian and Muslim educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa is among the largest intraregional gaps in the world. Some scholars suggest that the source of the Christian-Muslim attainment gap is rooted in the location of Christian missionary activity during colonial times. Missionary-built educational facilities were often located in what became heavily Christian areas rather than predominantly Muslim locales.

Historic differences between colonial policy and missionary activity in northern and southern Nigeria are likely an important factor in the present-day Christian-Muslim education gap in Nigeria. Some Muslims, in any case, feared that missionary schools would attempt to convert their children to Christianity. As a result, Christians gained an educational edge over Muslims that lasted decades.

In his study of Christian versus Muslim primary school enrollment, Holger Daun, an expert in educational policy at Stockholm University, argues that religion counts as much as economic factors in determining attainment. He finds no definitive explanation for the gap, but posits that one factor may be that religious schools set up by local Islamic leaders are viewed as an alternative to government schools.

Some of the Islamic schools follow the curricula of state schools, while others teach only religious subjects. Melina Platas, an assistant professor of political science at New York University-Abu Dhabi, argues that the Christian-Muslim attainment gap, particularly in Muslim-majority areas, is only partly explained by poverty and access to schools. Surveys she conducted in Malawi found that Muslims and Christians express similar demands for formal education and do not perceive a trade-off between religious and formal schooling that would affect educational attainment.

She offers two alternative explanations for further research. Platas suggests that a second possible explanation, particularly for Muslim-majority areas, is that some Muslims may believe that secular government schools are Christian-oriented. As during the colonial period, therefore, they may fear that attending these schools poses a threat to their religious identity and to the practice of their faith.

Sociologist Nicolette D. As a result, Muslims may not favor state-sponsored schooling for their children to the same degree that Christians do, preferring instead to send them to Islamic religious schools. Muslim participation is even lower in countries that have mandatory teaching of religion in government primary schools, Manglos-Weber adds. A major challenge for African nations is that their populations have been rapidly expanding even as their governments struggle to allocate resources for universal education. In Ivory Coast, for example, anthropologist Robert Launay contends that an economic boom following independence favored those who had been educated in the colonial era and convinced many Muslim parents of the economic benefits of state schooling.

Under such constraints, expanding the education system was out of the question.