Protestantism Still Wielding a Big Influence on Global Education: Report

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 25, 2018 | Go to article overview

Protestantism Still Wielding a Big Influence on Global Education: Report


Protestantism still matters when it comes to secondary school education across the world, a study shows.

Many more young people attend secondary school in countries where there is a historical legacy of the Protestant religion.

This is despite nearly two centuries of secularisation and a dramatic expansion of government-provided secondary education since the mid-20th century.

At the start of the Reformation in 1517, initiated by Martin Luther, Protestantism made strenuous efforts to expand schooling.

Luther demanded compulsory elementary education for boys and girls from all social classes.

Other German Protestants soon developed a comprehensive system of schooling, including a system of secondary education.

The German reforms quickly became a blueprint for education across many other countries in western and northern Europe.

Britain exported Protestantism to its colonies around the globe, which profoundly shaped their educational systems as well.

Here too, Protestants introduced mass education, including formal education for women as well as for marginalised groups, including slaves.

The Protestant missionaries in the British colonies were also the first to provide post-primary education.

As a result of these reforms, school enrolment rates were substantially higher than in colonies of, for example, Spain and France.

However, from the 19th century Protestantism's influence on schooling had strongly waned -- first in traditionally Protestant countries and, further to decolonisation, in Britain's former colonies.

School systems were secularised and almost completely taken over by the state. …

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