Swaziland has ordered its schools to teach only Christianity, a move criticised by opponents as fuelling intolerance of Muslims.
As schools reopened for a new academic year on Tuesday, officials said that old text books were being replaced with new ones that mention only the Bible, and that schools were required to submit a list of qualified religious studies teachers ahead of the start of term.
“Other religions will not be offered at primary and high school level,” said Pat Muir, a top education ministry official, adding that the policy sought to avoid confusing pupils.
“At tertiary level they will be able to make a decision to learn about other religions,” he said.
AFP reports that some surveys put Swaziland’s Muslim population as high as 10 percent, but the US Department of State in 2015 put the figure at about two percent.
Many Swazis combine Christianity with indigenous beliefs, and religious freedoms are written into the country’s 2005 constitution.
The education ministry last week instructed all head teachers to ensure that the syllabus would not mention any religion other than Christianity, including Islam and Judaism.
Sahid Matsebula, a Swazi-born Muslim who works for a mosque near the capital Mbabane, said the government’s policy could worsen religious friction in the southern African nation.
“What plan does the government have in place for our children who are not Christian?” he told AFP. “They will be taught one thing at home and taught something else at school.”