Religious tolerance

Together with the North West University, Driestar Christian University  researches religious intolerance worldwide.

Intolerance: a worldwide problem

Intolerance among people takes many forms, and can occur on international level (as evidenced in the struggle between Iran and Iraq on the one hand and the United States of America on the other hand), national level (religious strife within the borders of Nigeria - north and south), among groups (Islam against the Christian and / or secular West), among individuals (misunderstandings). Religious and / or cultural intolerance seems to be one of the most prominent problems that the world has to contend with.

Research into the problem of (religious and other forms of) tolerance) has become necessary for three reasons:
  1. There seems to be much conceptual confusion about what exactly is referred to under the term 'tolerance' - despite the fact that some degree of consensus has recently emerged as a result of the work of experts such as Frank Furedi;
  2. Despite general insistence that individuals and groups should be more tolerant of one another, there remains a tendency to become highly intolerant due to trigger actions and behavior.
  3. The role of education in the process of promoting greater tolerance cannot be overemphasized. This role has to be carefully analysed and described.


Theoretical research
Prof. Hannes Vd Walt
Dr. Bram de Muynck
Prof. Ferdinand Potgieter
Empirical research
Dr. Nico Broer
Prof. Charl Wolhuter

Parrallel to this project, Hanna Markus MA is working on a PhD study about religious tolerance as educational goal. For more information, visit this page.

Cooperation North West University and Driestar University

The Tolerance and Education Project flows from long-standing co-operation between the Faculty of Education at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University in South Africa and the Driestar Educatief Teacher Education University in Gouda, The Netherlands. After decades of informal and rather unstructured research co-operation (since 1976 to 2005), the two institutions decided to embark on more structured research. The first project, Spirituality and Education, was completed in the five-year period from 2006 to 2011. This project on Tolerance and Education commenced in 2012, and will hopefully be completed by 2016 or 2017. Several publications have flowed from the previous project, and even more seem to flow from the present project.

The research project

The investigation consists of a conceptual and theoretical part, and an empirical part. The theoretical part has now been largely finalized (see this website for some of the publications that flowed from it) but this can be regarded as an ongoing project. The empirical part is on the point of being launched; the questionnaire has been finalized and is in the process of being validated. It is already available in four languages: Afrikaans, English, Dutch and Setswana (an African language). An appeal is hereby made to researchers worldwide with an interest in tolerance, religion and education to contact us to apply the questionnaire also in their own countries. A number of comparative studies could flow from such co-operation.

Call for cooperation

As mentioned, the questionnaire is already available in four languages, and should be accessible to any researcher with a good command of English. Researchers wishing to apply the questionnaire will have to translate it and validate it for their specific target groups (this will have to be done in conjunction with the developers of the questionnaire). The results will be centrally processed, and researchers will be invited to participate in comparative studies and the writing up of reports for international dissemination. Combined with this is a project in which the history and current status of religion education is being researched. In view of the demands of the work on the questionnaire, this facet of the research does not receive all the attention it deserves. However, if anyone is prepared to research the history and current status of religion education in his or her country, she should please contact this research group.

Measuring religious tolerance in education

Towards an instrument for measuring religious tolerance among educators and their students worldwide
Johannes L. van der Walt