Farrelli Hambulo & Leonie Higgs, The Decline of the 'Religious Mission' in Catholic Secondary Schools in Zambia's Southern Province from 1964 to Date: A Catholic Educational Policy Perspective

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Keywords: Catholic; education; evangelize; religious; mission; policy


The educational partnership between the Catholic Church and government has been in existence since 1964 when the Catholic Church retained control of a majority of schools in the Zambian setting. A major outcome of this educational partnership was the functioning of Catholic schools from a ‘dual educational policy system’ grounded in the recognition of both Catholic education policy and Zambian national education policies. Within Catholic educational contexts in Zambia, the climax vis-à-vis the recognition of Catholic education policy has always been the significance accorded to the implementation of the ‘religious mission’. By the ‘religious mission’ of Catholic schools is meant the sacred duty accorded to Catholic educational institutions to evangelize the Catholic faith to all within Catholic educational settings worldwide (Grace, 2002; Miller, 2006). This is because the ‘religious mission’ which enhances the schools’ catholicity is the primary purpose of Catholic educational institutions worldwide. This study was qualitative in approach and utilized a case study design. The data collection techniques employed in the study were: semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews and document analysis. Purposeful sampling of research participants was employed. Qualitative data from interviews and focus group interviews were analyzed descriptively using thematic categorization procedures and data from documents was analyzed using qualitative content analysis and this was done at the levels of primary content analysis and latent content analysis. Drawing information from Hambulo’s (2016) study entitled ‘Catholic secondary education and identity reformation in Zambia’s Southern Province’, this article  showcases challenges experienced particularly by Catholic secondary schools in Zambia’s Southern Province and relates them to the decline of their ‘religious mission’ over the years since 1964. The overarching argument of the article is that, the challenges experienced by such schools since 1964, are also the reason for their declined ‘religious mission’ further leading to the loss of their catholicity. Such challenges have also enhanced an inevitable gap between most major Catholic education policy provisions meant to promote the ‘religious mission’ of the schools and the actual educational practice in the schools in Zambia’s Southern Province since 1964. The article provides a formal statement regarding the declined ‘religious mission’ in the schools through the provision of a precise description of its nature and scope.