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Reschedule RE lessons, Irish schools told

25 April 2014


CHRISTIAN religious-education lessons in Irish primary schools should be scheduled at the beginning or end of the daily timetables in order to allow those of other faiths or none to opt out, the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, has said.

He told the annual conference of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation on Monday that the Roman Catholic Church, as patron of the majority of such schools, had failed to provide information on how national schools could be more inclusive in accommodating pupils of other faiths and none.

Responding, the chairman of the Catholic Schools Partnership, Fr Michael Drumm, rejected claims that the RC Church had been slow to address the issue of inclusivity. He also challenged the suggestion that religious education was a problem for parents of different views in RC schools.

"The evidence we hear on the ground", he said, "is [that] when the child-centred nature of the religious education programme is explained to parents of other traditions, the vast majority, including Muslims, are happy for their children to stay in."

Paul Rowe, who leads the non-denominational grouping Educate Together, said that teachers made a big effort to balance the situation, but "parents are telling us . . . that if they take their child out of religious instruction, the child must leave the class and sit . . . unsupervised in the corridor."

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