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____Religion in Public Education, Australia

________Post-Doctoral research in progress...


Macquarie University_
Supported by Macquarie University

 

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International studies (REDCo 2008) show that children with some education about religions and ethics are more tolerant than those without such instruction. However, results vary depending on how they are taught.

Religion is generally divided into: single-faith religious instruction (RI) within one tradition; and comparative education (RE) about many religions and non-religious beliefs. Single-faith instruction increases inter-religious intolerance because it provides no bridge to understanding other beliefs.

Australian states vary in their understanding and implementation of the secular principle. In education, 'secular' means not promoting or denigrating any particular religion. It is not an atheist idea. Secular RE is state designed and delivered, and includes various religious and non-religious ethical traditions.

 

For many children, RI classes are their first experience of segregation on the basis of belief. In some regions, there is limited choice. At the same time, for minority faiths, RI can provide inclusive engagement with the school community. This project examines the attitudes of parents, educators, teacher union representatives and RI volunteers.

QUEENSLAND CASE STUDY
Some state departments do not deal well with complaints regarding RI classes and the lack of alternatives for those who opt out. A case study on Queensland (where parents are considering a class action) is underway. Any parent, teacher or principal who would like to document a complaint about RI classes, or lack of alternatives, contact:

Dr. Catherine Byrne
E:
cathyjbyrne@gmail.com

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