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  • 7 April 2016 : Religious and secular groups weigh into debate about place of religion in the school curriculum

In recent times, increasing debate has taken place in Irish society concerning the place of religion in the school curriculum. This debate has arisen mainly due to more religious diversity than before in the majority Catholic society, in terms of the emergence and growth of new minority religious traditions but also increasing numbers of people who self-identify as atheist/secular/non-religious as well as people who self-identify as Catholic but have low levels of commitment to the Catholic faith.

In light of this, religious and secular groups have recently participated in a consultation process about the teaching of religion initiated by the NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment), putting forth their views on the proper place of religion in the school system.

For more detail, see Irish Times.

Brian Conway
  • April 2011 : Role of Religious Denominations in School Governance and Religious Education

The future denominational profile of schools and religious education are live public policy issues in Ireland today, particularly in relation to primary schooling. The coming together of a number of factors have contributed to this : increasing religious diversity arising from immigration ; the decline of religious personnel as teachers and school principals ; dis-identification with Catholic belief and practice among devotees ; perceived absence of parental choice concerning the type of school their child can attend.

In April 2011 the Irish government established the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector to consider proposals for dealing with the management and teaching of religion in Irish primary schools against the background of an increasingly pluralistic society. The forum’s report was published in 2012 and recommended a range of measures aimed at balancing the need to preserve the denominational Catholic sector while at the same time meeting the religious education and school governance needs of children and parents who do not belong to a religious denomination or who belong to a minority religious denomination. The report has been generally well received.

  • September 2007 : Increasing use of religious tests for admittance to Irish Schools

The growth in the Irish population has increased the pressure on Irish primary level schools, especially in the Greater Dublin area. The vast majority of primary schools are managed by the Christian Churches, notably the Roman Catholic Church. The schools are permitted by law to positively discriminate in favour of church members. There are increasing reports of schools insisting that parents provide evidence that they are Christian (e.g. a baptismal certificate) to ensure that their child can secure a much sought after place. At the start of the new school year in September 2007 dozens of children in one local suburb failed to find a school place and it was noted that these children were all of either minority or immigrant backgrounds.

  • 2006 : Largest Catholic teaching order reduces role in education

The Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic teaching order, have been to the forefront of education in Ireland for two centuries. The Brothers have announced their withdrawal from direct involvement in over 29 primary and 109 secondary schools which will be transferred to a charity staffed entirely by lay people. The move has been precipitated by declining vocations but it also comes after a difficult decade in which some members of the order have been convicted of sexual abuse in its institutions.

D 27 mars 2015   

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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