Monday, 9 April 2012

Teaching Religion in Schools????

Well it seems that the minister of Education in Trinidad has decided he would liketo make teaching about religion mandatory in denominational schools. Here is an extract of an article from the Catholic News (April 17 2012) that pretty much expresses my sentiments on the matter:

.....All our country’s festivals and religious observances present wonderful opportunities for all to grow in appreciation of the faith they profess and to grow in appreciation of the faith of others. These opportunities should not be taken for granted.

No doubt, knowledge and respect for the faith of others can be deepened in our society. Schools and educators who value the contribution of religion to our society have taken the initiative to teach about other religions.

The plan by Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh to make teaching about religion mandatory in denominational and State-run schools has received much media attention. The Minister’s proposal has raised several questions which, for the most part, have been well articulated in newspapers columns and on the Internet.

In response to the Minister’s plan the Catholic Education Board of Management has affirmed the need for students to know about other religions that exist in Trinidad and Tobago. The Board notes that teaching about other religions forms part of the Social Studies syllabus and is incorporated into the Religious Education programme in our primary school texts. CEBM is willing to enter into dialogue with the Minister to see how his proposal may complement the work already taking place. He has promised to consult further with the Boards before implementing any new policy.

It ought to be clear even now though that the Church will not agree to “Teaching About Religion”, the term the Minister seems to prefer to Comparative Religion, in our Catholic schools to the detriment or exclusion of teaching of the Catholic faith.

In various ways religion is under attack from the secular society that aims to lessen the role of religious institutions in the society. A generalised teaching of religion seems to play into the hands of secularisation.

But further, it should be clear that the sentimental notion of a “melting pot” is not true to reality. As with matters of race, people come into a proper appreciation and respect of other beliefs as they grow in an appreciation of their own.

But the issue does raise a more fundamental question. What precisely is the Government seeking to correct or bring into balance by the proposed policy?

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