CONTROVERSIAL religious instruction classes are three times more likely to be taught at government primary schools in Melbourne's eastern suburbs than in the ethnically diverse west.
The Victorian Education Department forces primary schools to run the classes if an accredited religious instructor is available, although parents can choose to opt their children out.
However, a survey by lobby group Fairness in Religions in School reveals only 28 per cent of schools in Melbourne's west provide special religious instruction, compared with more than 87 per cent of schools in the eastern suburbs.
The survey comes as three parents today commence legal action in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, alleging that the Education Department segregates children on religious grounds and discriminates against those whom parents opt out of the classes.
One of the parents, Sophie Aitken, says in her complaint her children were put in the corridor or given Lego to play with when she opted them out of special religious instruction at Ivanhoe East Primary.
''I am troubled by this segregation and the limitations it causes my children … Once [my son] was told by another child that he would go to hell because he didn't believe in God,'' she says.
Yarraville West Primary is one of 71 state primary schools in Melbourne's western suburbs that does not offer special religious instruction.
School council president Lisel Thomas says the school is relieved it has never been approached by an accredited instructor and therefore is not compelled to hold the classes under the contentious Victorian legislation. ''We have raised the issue of how we would feel if we were approached and basically told we had to deliver special religious instruction without us having a choice in the matter and that certainly concerned our school council,'' Ms Thomas said. ''We have children from a number of different religious backgrounds. We believe it is important for children to stay together and learn together rather than being segregated on the basis of their religious belief.''
About 96 per cent of special religious instruction in Victoria is provided by Christian organisation Access Ministries, whose volunteers run the classes in 850 of the state's 1300 government primary schools.
Access Ministries CEO Evonne Paddison said the VCAT hearing had been brought on by a ''small, secularist group, predominantly inner-urban, who want to impose their views on the rest of the community''.
''Their claim that special religious instruction forces religion on children is a myth designed to scare the community,'' Dr Paddison said. ''Special religious instruction enjoys broad community support.''
The Fairness in Religions in School survey found 311 primary schools in Melbourne held Christian classes, 53 offered a choice of Christianity or another religion, five offered a non-Christian option only and 216 did not hold the classes.
Monash University sociology professor Gary Bouma was unsurprised by the survey's findings. ''The eastern suburbs have a very high percentage of very active Christians - Camberwell has 23 Anglican churches,'' Professor Bouma said. He said while schools here had a long history of providing special religious instruction, the resistance movement, spearheaded by Fairness in Religions in School, was also coming out of the eastern suburbs. ''As British Protestantism recedes in hegemony within Australia, rising in voice are some of the non-religious voices saying this stuff has no place in our schools.''
Access Ministries spokeswoman Denise Nicholls said religious instruction was run by locals. She said she expected programs run by other faith providers to increase in the culturally diverse western suburbs if their communities requested it, which was ''entirely appropriate''.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/ed...#ixzz1nomGd9HC
So far the poll on ths link is sitting at
yes - 25%
no - 75%
...will add a poll to compare the BH communities thoughts.
View Poll Results: 'should religion be taught in State schools'
- 64. You may not vote on this poll
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 66
01-03-2012 09:54 #1
Should Religion be taught in State Schools?
01-03-2012 10:01 #2Junior Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2012
Yes, but as a general look at different faiths from across the globe.
I was raised in a atheist household, excluded from RE class which was purely Christian. As a young adult I found once I began traveling I was quite unaware of other faiths and customs. I have really enjoyed and found myself being a lot more understanding of other culture since I learnt about different faiths... Wish it had been taught in school.
Last edited by Mammytobe; 01-03-2012 at 10:07.
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01-03-2012 10:03 #3
Not in it's current form, no. I am fine with a cultural studies approach, where all religions are studied but not a single religion taught as fact to children who are not capable of critical thought.
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01-03-2012 10:04 #4Senior Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
I didn't vote as the yes/no option didn't quite fit with what I think.
I think that religion should be taught in all schools as part of the general education program and that all major religions (it would be impossible to cover every religion in the world) should be taught so that children grow up having a small understanding of, or at least an acceptance of, the various religions we have in Australia.
I do not think that this should be structed weekly classes but that it should be part of the social science curriculum.
Religious schools, Sunday school, and other outside of school hours programs exist if parents want their children to be taught in detail about their faith.
01-03-2012 10:07 #5
Not Christian based RE like many schools have. It marginalises other students (whether they are excluded or participate) for their beliefs.
From a cultural perspective of 'this is what some people believe and this is the structure of their faith system', yes it can be valuable, but as part of social studies and maybe as an elective for Year 11 and 12.
If parents want their children to have religious instruction then enrol them at a religious school, take them to Sunday school and educate them on religion in your home. I'd never entrust that portion of my kids education to a school.
01-03-2012 10:07 #6Senior Member
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
Absolutely not. Certainly not in a 'factual' sense anyway.
My DS goes to a public school where he's actually in the minority as he's from caucasian background and they learn about a lot of cultures but religion is not taught as being fact.
Somebody did, however, tell him that there's a man who made the world when he was on vacation care That was fun explaining that it's not true and it's just what some people believe!
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Stiflers Mom (01-03-2012)
01-03-2012 10:11 #7
I ticked 'no' - because I don't think Religion should be 'taught'
...'explored' - yes. Covering ALL (well most, ALL is enough to give an adult a headache let alone a young child) in a 'society & culture' type of lesson.
01-03-2012 10:17 #8
..the other two sat in the Principle's office with two other children to colour in.
..there is no other option for my kids. I proposed a number of Alternatives, even volunteered to supervise, but no, that is allowed in the Agreement outlined in the Education Act.
01-03-2012 10:28 #9
That is utterly disgraceful FITB.
01-03-2012 10:29 #10Senior Member
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
It is - and, IMO, an attempt at brainwashing young minds.
By bohara3 in forum Preschools and SchoolsReplies: 7Last Post: 30-07-2012, 15:21
By Bubbygirl in forum Religion / SpiritualityReplies: 94Last Post: 03-07-2012, 17:03
By Gothel in forum Social IssuesReplies: 3Last Post: 10-05-2012, 06:51
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