Great letter in The Courier, Ballarat

Swap religion for an inclusive curriculum

18 May, 2011 11:38 AM
This is an open letter to Minister for Education, Martin Dixon.As parents living in Ballarat, we would like to see the Education Act amended so that Special Religious Instruction is removed from all state schools and the law is consistent with the following aims:

Maintain an inclusive school curriculum that does not require any student to withdraw from class on account of different religious beliefs;

Formally cease the practice of volunteer-run special religious instruction (SRI) during school hours;

Follow an objective, fair and balanced comparative syllabus for education about religions and beliefs; and

Treat all religious organisations who wish to use the school facilities outside of the school day with transparent and equitable policies.

We applaud and fully endorse the announcement by the Victoria AEU on Friday, May 13, passing a resolution that aligns its policy with the aim of the widely-publicised Fairness In Religions In Schools campaign.

We expect them to be given preference over activists who seek to use the schools as a place to conduct ministry.

The AEU represents 46,000 teachers and principals across Victoria and speaks for the profession, but also for the ideals of public education in our state.

We agree with the wisdom of our state’s teachers and want the state policy changed to be consistent with the AEU resolution and the aims of the FIRIS campaign.

When our son started school at a state primary school in Ballarat this year, we expected it to be secular and were most surprised to find that SRI is offered.

We have had to make arrangments to remove our son from the class during this time, with only one other child being removed along with him in his partcular grade.

The principal tells me that 25 per cent of the school’s pupils do not participate in SRI.

If SRI is to be offered, it should be out of school hours, so that other children (of different faiths) are not discriminated against and ostracised by their peers.

We are following this issue closely in the media and look forward to your reply as Education Minister.


Ballarat North