Saturday 1 October 2016

Children from non-religious homes 'discriminated against in Irish schools'

Published 01/02/2016 | 12:08

Children from non-religious families are still being “discriminated against” in Irish schools, it has been claimed.
Children from non-religious families are still being “discriminated against” in Irish schools, it has been claimed.
Michael Barron of EQUATE

Children from non-religious families are still being “discriminated against” in Irish schools, it has been claimed.

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Michael Barron, Executive Director of EQUATE, a children's charity seeking education reform, says current admission laws are not “fit for purpose” and must be changed.

Mr Bannon is calling for a legal requirement that schools to be “inclusive”, and this morning launched a new campaign aimed at making reform in this area a priority for the next government.

He stressed that education is a fundamental cornerstone of our society - and our schools must operate in the best interest of all our children.

As part of the ‘Open The School Gates’ initiative, the charity is calling for reform of the school day so all pupils can partake in every class.

They are also campaigning for a greater number of multi and non-denominational schools.

The initiative has the support of a number of key children and human rights organisations, including the ISPCC, Barnardos, and BeLonG To.

Speaking to independent.ie, Mr Barron said the next government should ensure all children can “grow and learn together.”

“Almost 97pc of schools are maintained by religious orders of some kind, the majority being Catholic.

"Those schools are allowed to not admit a child, if their religion doesn’t match that of the school.

“A recent survey shows one-in-five people in Ireland know of somebody who baptised their children in order to get them into a particlar school.

“We believe that in a 21st century modern education system, that should no longer be the case.

“We need to reform the classroom, so that all school goers can experience and participate throughout the school day, regardless of religion or non-religion.

“We have reached a national consensus on the need for such reforms, he said.

"The question is no longer if - but how and when.

“We call on all political parties to prioritise equality in education in the election ahead, and we also call on the next government to make it a key area of work," he added.

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