ACTEA Forum #2 -- August 2004
Summary Report of BEST/NEGST Consultation 2004 29 March to 2 April 2004, held at NEGST, Kenya
Consultation 2004 was a follow-up to a March 2002 consultation, which brought together about 35 theological educators from around the continent to discuss practical ways to improve leadership development for the African Church. The participants at Consultation 2002 identified two needs as most urgent: 1) curriculum renewal, and 2) literature development.
They also levelled two serious criticisms at existing programs for training African Church leaders: 1) graduates are inadequately prepared to deal with African realities both in the Church and in society; 2) graduates do not consistently demonstrate personal integrity and spiritual maturity. Participants attributed these weaknesses in their "products" to curricula overly influenced by the West. The typical African program of study differs little from that offered in the West. It includes few, if any, Africa-specific courses. Existing courses often are not taught from an African point of view, largely because the textbooks are imported from the West. Further, as in the West, African curricula focus on the intellect to the neglect of character and skills development.
Consultation 2004 assembled not only theological educators but also Christian publishers, because they needed to discuss issues of curriculum renewal and literature development together. Meetings held from March 29 to April 2 2004 united 60 theological educators and 10 publishers from 19 African countries. The group represented literally dozens of Bible schools, colleges, and seminaries because it included participants with considerable oversight responsibilities.
The participants discussed in depth the desired profile of an African Church leader and the curricular reforms necessary to produce such a leader (including the need for the utilisation of Africa-relevant literature). The meetings concluded with the articulation of the following action points.
While western, central, and eastern Africa were well represented at the consultation (both Anglophone and Francophone), the organisers would have wished more participants from southern and, particularly, Lusophone Africa had been free to respond positively to our invitation. Those who attended found the formal meetings and informal interaction very valuable. While the need to function in two languages slowed the process, it enriched mutual understanding. Nevertheless, separate consultations in the future would allow Francophone and Anglophone participants to address contextual concerns in greater depth needs.
Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the ongoing conversation on curriculum renewal. In particular, we are very interested in input on 1) specific examples of the lack of adequate preparation (academic, spiritual, moral, or practical) for service to the African Church, 2) recommended modifications to existing Bible college and seminary curricula (explicit or implicit), 3) suggestions for Africanising courses or curricula, 4) laudable initiatives of curriculum renewal, and 5) textbooks relevant for African theological education.
Please copy all four virtual committee chairpersons:
Reported by Richard L. Starcher
The mission of ACTEA is to promote quality evangelical theological education in Africa by providing supporting services, facilitating academic recognition, and fostering continental and inter-continental cooperation.