Editorial: Opening up religious teaching is a welcome move for schools
Published 03/02/2014 | 02:30
IT HAS been a long time in coming. But it is very welcome nonetheless. Today, our education correspondent reports that, for the first time, the majority of children in Catholic primary schools will learn about other faiths as part of religious instruction.
This welcome development comes at a time of keen debate about the teaching of religion in our schools. The old secularist versus traditionalist spats are sharpened by questions about the quality of Irish education and warnings of 'curriculum overload'.
So, finding space for this new element of education in the school timetables will pose challenges. But it can enhance the children's cultural instruction, actually deepen their understanding of Catholic traditions, and also help promote mutual understanding.
A compelling argument for caution in the debate about teaching religion is its wide-ranging cultural value. It is hard to imagine one understanding the writings of James Joyce, for example, without a certain grounding in Catholic teachings.
We understand that those preparing the draft policy aim to deepen understanding of many faiths without diluting the Catholic message. That appears reasonable and positive in all circumstances.