Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mr Brown.. he say.. NO!

Ever received an email from "10 Downing St."?

I had that dubious pleasure today and I must admit it did cause me to double take my inbox and sent a mild panic wave through me (did I remember to post that tax return...?). The email in question was actually a response to an e-petition I signed ages ago about faith schools, the details of the petition were as follows,

"Faith schools remove the rights of children to choose their own religious, philosophical and ethical beliefs. They also sanction ethnic segregation and create tension and divisiveness within society. Schools should be places where children are given a free education, not centres for indoctrination. Creationism and other religious myths should not be taught as fact regardless of the funding status of a school. Abolishing faith schools will provide children with more freedom of choice and help to promote a fully multi-cultural, peaceful society."

The idea clearly was to remove the "indoctrination" element from the education system for reasons of social cohesion and anti-segregation, notice this doesn't mean that children can't be indoctrinated at home if their parents or guardians so wish.

The response from the Government was as follows:

"The Government remains committed to a diverse range of schools for parents to choose from, including schools with a religious character or "faith schools" as they are commonly known.

Religious Education (RE) in all schools, including faith schools, is aimed at developing pupils' knowledge, understanding and awareness of the major religions represented in the country. It encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils' moral, cultural and mental development. In partnership with national faith and belief organisations we have introduced a national framework for RE.

In February 2006, the faith communities affirmed their support for the framework in a joint statement making it clear that all children should be given the opportunity to receive inclusive religious education, and that they are committed to making sure the framework is used in the development of religious education in all their schools and colleges.

The Churches have a long history of providing education in this country and have confirmed their commitment to community cohesion. Faith schools have an excellent record in providing high-quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and are some of the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country. Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character."

IMO This response simply skirts around the entire central point of the petition not touching any aspect of it, what can you expect from politicians I suppose, but as a response it is somewhat disappointing.

In essence what HM Gov. is saying is that faith schools must teach some "comparative" religion as part of their curriculum (although it is not clear if this is mandatory), however each particular faith school can still legally qualify any statement about any religion with "this is what they believe but of course they are still wrong and we are right", it seems to be all about the parents and facilitating the tacit support within our education system of the passing on of their personal mythologies, no one seems to be asking the obvious question, what do the kids actually need.

Plus ca change ..

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