Senator Marc MacSharry has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to clarify the Government’s position on religious education in primary schools.
This follows Education Minister Ruairí Quinn’s demand that schools ditch religious teaching in favour of maths, reading and sciences.
Senator MacSharry commented: “This is an extraordinary position taken by the Government’s Education Minister. Clearly we have a challenge in terms of science and mathematics and that needs a proper strategic response, but my fear is that the Labour Party’s proposal to ditch religious education is more about ideology than properly thought through education policy.
“Minister Quinn’s comments are unhelpful, uninformed and unwelcome in the context of improving our children’s all round education and preparation for life. They also show contempt for parental choice.
“The fact is that there are a wide variety of social benefits to religious education beyond the religious faith itself in the context of pastoral learning and other social benefits. The Government has already shown disregard for this element of education in the decision to scrap guidance counsellors at secondary level. This disregard should not be allowed to be extended to the primary sector.
“A further attack along these lines is not consistent with a Government seeking to improve the educational experience of our children. Academic progress is critically important of course, but so too is preparing children for the spiritual and emotional challenges that life presents. Regardless of one’s faith the teaching time available currently for religion makes a critical contribution in this regard.
“I am calling on the Taoiseach to clarify whether the views as expressed by Ruairí Quinn represent Government policy.”