The current curriculum that is used for Lay Ministerial Training was the fruit of a consultation held in February 2002. The consultation led to the design, development and production of study materials for total lay training in the church. This has been used till now and so far, for the purposes of what it had been crafted to achieve it had been excellent. Due to changing dynamics however, the levels of those we seek this training for has been changing just as the needs of the congregations the lay people serve in have also been changing. While the current materials targeted the barest minimum of being able to read and write and largely up to secondary levels, they also employ the use of Adult Literacy teaching and learning modes that suits the level of intake best.
Recent intakes however have indicated that more and more applicants, especially for the catechist programme do have undergraduate degrees already with several more having postgraduate degrees. Putting the spread of intake capacities together in class creates the challenge of having to transcend a very wide range to lead a class in a study. The challenges here are that whenever on the one hand, the facilitator targets the lowest end of those who could barely read and write and so uses a mother tongue, the challenge of some not being able to speak that general tongue shows up and so calls for the use of several vernaculars. At the same time, whenever, the facilitator focuses on the lowest end, she tends to not just isolate those of the higher ends – undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, but also gives them the impression that it does not take much effort to go through the training in that, they are mostly idle.
On the other hand, whenever the facilitator focuses on the higher ends, she loses the lower ends completely because the discussions weigh too high for them and this is seen either in the questions they ask, or that they also tend to idle. Again the materials and their desire are such that when the higher ends are encouraged to do private study, it takes them less than 20% of the required time to finish a study. In fact, the mode of presentation of the material does lends itself to challenge entrants with the secondary level and below capacities but presents very little challenge to entrants with bachelor’s degrees or above. This a trainer would want to avoid so as not to create the impression that one does not need to exert any effort or just the least minimum effort to be trained as a catechist. The repercussions of such a state as it could be transferred into attitudes and perceptions of the role and function of the catechist is a danger one would want to avoid.
It is clear that catechists are at the forefront of nurturing congregations from their inception till they are developed enough or outgrown the capacities of a catechist so requires a minister. At this stage, the catechist becomes an assistant to the minster. In spite of the necessity to nurture a congregation at its formative stages well enough just as the foundation of future superstructure will require, the training of a catechist rather seems to be somewhat inferior as they are trained only to “assist the minister” though they are deployed to nurture congregations at their most critical formative stages.