Vedaaranya Heritage Arts and Healing Festival 2016

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Sarah Croché

Facultés universitaires catholiques de Mons (FUCaM)-
151, chaussée de Binche - 7000 Mons

Choose the truth between academic and religious knowledge at school

This communication concerns the religious influence in education. It aims to analyze how the oppositions between the discourses of science and those of religions, between academic and religious knowledge, are addressed in secondary education in three countries (French-speaking community of Belgium, Senegal and Rwanda). In these countries, on some sensitive issues such as the origin of life, contradictory messages are conveyed to secondary school children by the official school master and the religious master, whether the latter is part of formal education or not. The link between science and religion is a subject is of intrinsic interest as it investigates how knowledge or convictions are constructed, transmitted and kept by individuals and communities.

The tension between scientific and religious discourses becomes a problem only when the State cannot limit each discourse within their sphere of relevance and identify the knowledge that must be passed to younger generations. In the three educational systems studied, it seems the State is only partly successful because it fails to impose its own criteria to actors who prefer those offered by their local, national and international networks. The variety of observation fields is proof that the tension between scientific statements and religious assertions is attached to neither a specific religion nor to the status of the religion where this tension shows.

This communication uses the Actor-Network-Theory (ANT). ANT’s theoretical framework, which considers that all actors have the same chances to see their view points prevail, is most relevant to investigate this question, because it does not postulate that the production conditions of scientific discourse give it an advantage on all the others. The concept of network, which was put forward by ANT to escape a territorialized vision of society, reminds us that common thinking is not necessarily associated to physical proximity.


Sarah Croché is Postdoctoral Researcher of the National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) in Belgium, researcher at the Catholic University of Mons (FUCaM). She holds a PhD in political and social sciences and a PhD in educational sciences, obtained in 2009 at the Louvain University Academy and the University Lumière-Lyon II. Sarah pursues her research on the study of the relation established between the sciences and the religions at school.