Friday 9 December 2016

Teaching children about world religions and ethics could help counter Islamophobia

Aislinn O’Donnell

Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30

A poster by French street artist Combo is pictured after being stuck on the Quai de la Tournelle, near the Arab World Institute (IMA) on February 8, 2015 in Paris, displaying Combo's message on the coexistence of religions, using intertwined symbols of the Muslim, Jewish and Catholic religions to write the word
A poster by French street artist Combo is pictured after being stuck on the Quai de la Tournelle, near the Arab World Institute (IMA) on February 8, 2015 in Paris, displaying Combo's message on the coexistence of religions, using intertwined symbols of the Muslim, Jewish and Catholic religions to write the word "Coexist". Combo stuck and distributed posters in front of the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris on February 8, supported by the institution, after claiming to have been attacked because of his message on the coexistence of religions. Combo said he was attacked on January 31 at Paris' Porte Doree district by four men while he was putting on a wall a poster of himself photographed in a djellaba and associated with the word "Coexist", using intertwined symbols of the Muslim, Jewish and Catholic religions. The Notre-Dame cathedral is seen behind. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

The proposal for an Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics curriculum in primary schools has met with considerable resistance in some quarters. But could it help create a space for difficult conversations, including conversations about the causes of political violence, terrorism, conflict, war and alienation?

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The proposal, from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), is an exciting initiative in Irish education, even though there are concerns that it is not viable in an already full primary school curriculum.

Some think that it will undermine the religious ethos of schools and others feel that all talk of religion should be kept out of schools.

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