The education of the whole person: The Igbo moral perspective

Peter Chidi Osuagwu, Fordham University


This study examines the Igbo concept of morality. It explores the Igbo world view, its religious and cultural roots and finds out that the Igbo have customs and traditions Omenala which include their unwritten moral code. The family and the community were the traditional places for moral education before the advent of Christianity and Western education. Profound and rapid changes affected the people and their culture took place with the coming of Western civilization. Christianity and Western education introduced a wide range of Western values and institutions---including churches, literacy, urban life, wage earning. At the same time, the Igbo were indoctrinated with a sense of cultural inferiority and a strong dislike for their own religion and culture. Under these circumstances, conversion to Christianity amounted to "conversion" to a whole new culture and acquisition of a new identity. This system of education created seemingly multiple personalities in the society. The study affirms that education, especially moral education, should be meaningful for the people of all ages. It should consider the actual people to whom it is addressed, understand their world view (language, culture, morals, proverbs, signs and symbols) and be able to give some answers to the people's questions about life. Education of the whole person is a call to integrate the Igbo moral perspective into the teaching of religious and moral education in the church and school curricula in the Igbo society. Holistic moral education that focuses on the formation of the whole person is the ideal proposal. Its application will lead to new insights and understanding. It will integrate the positive Igbo moral values into Christianity making it possible for the Igbo-Christian moral identity. For, if a people lose their culture, their identity is gone forever. To facilitate this integration, specific suggestions and solutions have been made in the treatise.

Subject Area

Religious education|Educational theory|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Osuagwu, Peter Chidi, "The education of the whole person: The Igbo moral perspective" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3222144.