In Things Fall Apart, how does education advance Christianity among the Igbo people?
As was mentioned in the previous post, Mr. Brown has extensive conversations with Akunna and learns about the clan's religion in Chapter 21. Mr. Brown comes to the conclusion that a frontal assault on the clan's religion would not succeed in converting the natives to Christianity. Instead, Mr. Brown attempts to influence the villagers through education. Achebe writes,
"From the very beginning religion and education went hand in hand" (64).
Mr. Brown begins to build schools and educate the villagers. Mr. Brown gains favor among the people by explaining to them that literacy will positively impact their village's future and prevent strangers from ruling them. Gradually, the villagers begin attending Mr. Brown's school, where they learn to read and write. Achebe writes,
"And it was not long before the people began to say that the white man's medicine was quick in working. Mr. Brown's school produced quick results" (64).
Mr. Brown incorporates Christianity into the curriculum, which influences the villagers to join the religion. Eventually, new churches and schools are established throughout villages. Through education, Mr. Brown is able to convert many of the native people to Christianity. Under the guise of education, the white men are able to establish Christian churches throughout African villages and spread their religion.
The Chapter that is most relevant to this question is Chapter Twenty One, which narrates the increasing influence that the missionary, Mr. Brown is gaining in the community. As Mr. Brown talks more and more with Akunna and gains more knowledge about the world view of the tribe, he realises that a "frontal attack" on this belief system will not work, and so he tries a subtler attack using education as his principle method. He builds a school in the community and Mr. Brown asks families to send their children there, saying that learning to read and write would make them future leaders of the land. Education and the way that it was shown to result in social advancement therefore became a key policy helping to expand Christianity. In the story, you can note the impact of this policy and how it helped spread Christianity in the quote about "the white man's medicne":
And it was not long before the people began to say that the white man's medicine was quick in working. Mr. Brown's school produced quick results. A few months in it were enough to make one a court messenger or even a court clerk. Those who stayed longer became teachers; and from Umuofia labourers went forth into the Lord's vineyard. New churches were established in the surrounding villages and a few schools with them. From the very beginning religion and education went hand in hand.