Discrimination in schools

 

A chara, – In reply to Eileen Gamble’s article on coming out in the staffroom (Education, May 27th), the Rev Patrick G Burke (May 29th) says, as if both situations were comparable, “It is interesting that alleging discrimination in one area should be used to justify discrimination in another.” Is he wilfully missing something?

Under the current denominational system of education, many teachers have to pretend they believe not only in God but in church teaching, and at best non-conforming pupils are facilitated elsewhere during religious instruction.

Under a system with one patron – the Department of Education – where religion would be respected, taught as culture but not instructed as belief during school hours, and not arising as a question when enrolling pupils or employing teachers, no one would have to pretend or deny anything.

School would be a reflection of a society where there is a widespread and shifting spectrum of practice and belief.

While the idea of retaining some national schools under church patronage might work in towns, it discriminates against the country where one school caters for a wide area.

Though it might seem to favour the secular view, a clean break between church and state in education would benefit both sides as religion would be freely and more consciously chosen.

Until the current understanding of the “right to educate children in a manner that accords with their religious beliefs” is interpreted to refer only to parent-funded private schools, after-school religious doctrine or Sunday school, the discrimination looks like it is all on one side. – Is mise,

ÉILIS NÍ ANLUAIN

An Pháirc Thiar,

Bré,

Co Chill Mhantáin.

Sir, – The problem for Stephen Marken (May 28th) is that to satisfy his wish to teach in an atheist environment he would deny the majority their wish to have their children educated in a religious environment.

In Britain, which is further down the post-Christian route than we are, many people elect to have their children educated in a faith school because, although they do not share the faith, they recognise that having a faith ethos has a strongly beneficial effect on the quality of the education. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK DAVEY,

Dublin Road,

Shankill,

Dublin.