Religious instruction scrapped from curriculum – what a great headline to see in the newspaper.
Unfortunately, it is just for the Australian state of Victoria. But it could well happen here, considering the opposition to religious instruction in state schools we are seeing in New Zealand.
Victorian schools are scrapping special religious instruction from class time to make way for new content on world histories, cultures, faiths and ethics. The changes to the state’s curriculum raise doubts about the future of the controversial religious instruction program.
The state government said “Extracurricular programs should not interfere with class time when teachers and students should be focused on the core curriculum.” And curriculum changes mean that classes addressing domestic violence and respectful relationships will also become compulsory for all prep to year 10 students from 2016.
I certainly consider these subjects that are a far more important and necessary use of school time.
The changes mean that he weekly 30 minute religious instruction program will move to lunchtime and before and after school in 2016. Mind you, that opens up the possibility that other religious sects (and, heaven forbid, non-religious ones) may demand equal time for their own presence on school property for lunchtime and before and after school indoctrination opportunities.
These changes are welcomed by teachers – and no doubt by many parents. Lara Wood, a spokeswoman for Fairness in Religions in School, a group that has spent the past four years campaigning against SRI, claimed victory. “We won, we got what we wanted.”
She said religious instruction providers were proselytising in primary schools while students missed out on learning. This has been a common complaint from parents because the chaplaincy organisation involved is well-known for its evangelical orientation and attempts to convert children.
But, predictably, this move is opposed by some religious organisations – including the chaplaincy organisation Access Ministries, the main provider of religious instruction.