An education system that is beholden to the teachings of the Catholic church no longer has a place in a modern, secular society
The Government’s programme to divest schools from Catholic church patronage is proceeding too slowly and is simply not working, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.
Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s Education spokesperson, said:
“According to reports today, unpublished Department of Education data shows that 25.9 per cent of multidenominational primary schools are oversubscribed, while the figure for Catholic schools is just 5.8 per cent.
“These statistics are hardly surprising given that almost 90 per cent of our primary schools continue to be under Catholic patronage. The fact is that parents, when given the choice, are more likely to choose a form of education for their children that is not dictated by the ethos of the Catholic church.
“The Programme for Government commits to delivering 400 multidenominational primary schools by 2030 but this figure is highly unlikely to be achieved. There have been no interim targets or updates on the progress of the scheme since it was announced. Last year, just one school was divested of its Catholic patronage under the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process.
“So far, the divestment programme has been a band-aid on a failing system. It means we have accepted that our education system should silo children according to their religion. It assumes that if you tick a certain box on the census form, you want your children educated only with others of the same religion and no other. In reality, this is not the case for most parents.
“As the Government continues the divestment process, it is essential that the Minister for Education faces down any church demands to reinstate the so-called baptism barrier in our schools, which prioritised enrolment on the basis of Catholic faith.
“It is important that we respect the right to hold religious beliefs. But to protect the religious beliefs of all, as well as the right to an education, faith formation needs to be outside the classroom.
“An education system that is beholden to the teachings of the Catholic church no longer has a place in a modern, secular society.”
January 9, 2023