This topic has received the best post-bag ever! People are split down the middle on the issue for and against. I find it’s hard to persuade busy people to do a guest blog BUT they are happier to respond to something they question in mine; so the plan is that after the ‘cons’ of faith schools, a guest piece will follow on the ‘pros’ of faith schools. Then at a later date a lobby group pressing for the option of a national curriculum that’s more ‘religiously literate’ and thereby superseding the current need for separate faith-schools.
My final comment about the ‘cons’ of faith schools is the difficulty Ireland has faced over the years, which has contributed to a society fractured along sectarian lines. The more strict establishments seem to behave in ways that would make many fair-minded Muslims uncomfortable if the same happened in a madrassah.
Commenting on the situation in southern Ireland Linnea Dunne reports how Irish parents are desperate for an alternative to a tightly controlled state school system run by the Catholic Church where the curriculum is imbued with strict dogma. Parents can have their children withdrawn from religious education but this makes pupils feel ostracised.
Non-Catholic children also feel estranged from classmates for this and a number of other reasons. Some parents both Protestant and Catholic are concerned about the lack of ‘education for life’ and integration in a society that’s “bi-religious” (if not multi-religious).
Parents will queue all night to get their child on the roll of one of the few independent schools. One man was told that his child was number 453 on the waiting list for a place.
This shortage of alternative choices has led to the formulation of ‘Educate Together’, a network that aims to facilitate pupils receive a broader preparation for life rather than being restricted to a mono-focussed worldview.
A Northern Irish responder to this series of blogs on the issue, cited the segregation of children from Protestant and Catholic families being a major contributor to the hostility between communities and the generational perpetuation of the problem. The issue seemed to be the lack of familiarity and proximity, which inhibits children’s natural development of the necessary social skills needed to live together with social cohesion.
Source: ‘Our education system is a shambles’ – Irish Independent (Dublin) reported in ‘The Week’, 17 Dec 2016, pg18