Nineteen years after the launch of the first seminar in the Systematic Bible Training Program in Cotonou, things are still going strong. I (Nancy) just got back from teaching Homiletics (the Art of Preaching) to around 200 students in the 7th class since the program began in 1994. Every three years the Benin Bible Institute (BBI) enrolls new students for its three-year series of courses. BBI has graduated over 1,000 men and women who work as pastors, preachers, Sunday School teachers, choir members, and youth leaders. The demand for the program doesn’t seem to diminish.
I taught the class first on the weekend in French (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday: 15 hours) and then re-taught it during the week (Monday through Thursday: 20 hours) with translation into Goun, one of the local languages. The final task was to grade the exams, 184 of them; I was happy to leave the 30 exams written in Goun for someone else to grade!
Sometimes the students complain that BBI is too difficult; they suggest the standards are too high and the demands too rigorous. Yet in Benin anyone interested in serious study of Bible and Theology knows BBI is the place to go. This has become even more evident this year as BBI test scores were among the best of 7 theological institutions in West Africa that participated in the exam regime.
One of BBI’s programs in which we teach periodically is the Baccalaureate in Theology. The BAC is a diploma accorded at the end of secondary school in many Francophone countries and is the equivalent of a junior college level degree in North America. In order to attain the BAC, students must pass a series of exams which BBI students took in June. The exams, prepared by CITAF which coordinates the accreditation of institutions of theological education in Francophone Africa, covered a range of subjects including theology, philosophy, English, French, and Koine Greek.
Of BBI’s 9 candidates 7 passed, including 2 who passed with distinction. That is a success rate of 77% and compares favorably with the overall success rate which was 40% this year. So BBI has shown that it prepares its students well and that it has quality programs!