Original Research - Special Collection: Africa We Want - Religious Perspectives

Saving the rainbow nation: Education as challenge to the churches in South Africa

Johan M. van der Merwe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 4 | a7711 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7711 | © 2022 Johan M. van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 May 2022 | Published: 25 August 2022

About the author(s)

Johan M. van der Merwe, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Education in Africa is in a crisis. Some scholars go as far as to say that it is broken. This was also noted when the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, linked to the Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, were developed. One of the goals was defined as to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. This article explores the important role of education in transforming societies. To achieve this objective, the research in this article is based on a qualitative literature search. It focuses on relevant literature that included books, scholarly articles, online articles and scientific data provided by Statistics South Africa. It starts off by describing the brokenness of education in South Africa through the latest statistics that provide a very dark picture of education in the country. In the second place, the article revisits the Reformation to indicate that the church can and is called to play an important role in the improvement of education. The article concludes with two examples of how church organisations and specific churches in South Africa take up the challenge to transform societies through specific educational programmes.

Contribution: Specific mention is made of the programme of the South African Council of Churches called The South Africa We Pray For and Little Seeds, which is a combined programme in Early Childhood Development. As such, what happens in South Africa can be an example to the rest of Africa.


South Africa; education; crisis; poverty; church; reformation; early childhood development; The South Africa We Pray For


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