Patronage system and schools

 

Sir, – Margaret Lee (“Our Catholic school system has failed to inculcate Christian values”, Rite & Reason, October 6th) believes that, “It is past time that the Catholic hierarchy became proactive in withdrawing its patronage from the school system”.

Almost a decade has passed since the establishment of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector in 2011, which sought to diversify control of primary schools to better cater for a more pluralist society. If the intervening years have taught us anything, it is that pinning one’s hopes for reform of our school system on a proactive approach from the Catholic hierarchy is an exercise in futility. Indeed, far from ceding control, Catholic bodies continue to compete for patronage of new schools.

Education Equality believes in an approach to education based on human rights. Irish children should enjoy the same experience of school irrespective of their family background. It is wrong that children from non-Catholic households are treated differently for at least 30 minutes a day in our classrooms, or that they should be evangelised without parental consent. It is long past time that we put an end to this practice by moving these lessons outside core school hours on an opt-in basis.

It is encouraging to hear voices from within the church advocating for a change in direction. However, the church cannot be the driver in this process.

It’s time the State took the wheel. – Yours, etc,

DAVID GRAHAM,

Communications

Officer (Press),

Education Equality

Malahide,

Co Dublin.