Monday 24 July 2017

Allowing children to opt out of religion classes could cost the taxpayer millions

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

John Walshe

A solution emerged last night in the row over religious education in a Limerick school but it could yet prove to be an expensive lesson if significant numbers of others families follow the example set by parent Paul Drury.

His action in seeking to remove his daughter from the class in Castletroy Community College has raised a number of issues about not just parental rights but about a school's authority to prescribe a core compulsory curriculum. If large numbers take a similar stance, citing their right to withdraw their children from religious instruction, this could create a timetabling nightmare for schools.

Defenders of the religious education programme in the Castletroy school will rightly insist that there is no specific instruction involved, but for some parents the difference between religious education and religious instruction is the modern-day equivalent of arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

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