Religion and schools

 

Sir, – Since the 1930s, this State has been a semi-theocracy. Thankfully, this has changed.

To complete the process we need secular education where religious formation is provided, for the children of those who wish it, outside the school walls. – Yours, etc,

CONSTANCE MORRIS,

Shankill,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – Through our taxes we pay for almost all primary schools costs. The patron in the form of the local parish may pay a small percentage of the capital cost, which is mostly raised voluntarily in the community. And the parents by their considerable “voluntary” contributions pay quite a lot.

These are state schools and all children are obliged to attend from the age of six (with the exception of children whose parents choose home schooling). So why should the parish have any say in who does or does not get a place?

There should be a catchment area where everyone in that catchment has equal right of access to the school. It’s as simple as that.

Faith-formation is not the business of the state. It can facilitate it by allowing faith-formers to use the school for an extra period at the end of the school day, and parents who want their children to attend can encourage them and make the necessary arrangements.

He who pays the piper should call the tune. – Yours, etc,

VINCENT MURPHY,

Cork.

A chara, – Your editorial (“Bruton plans are welcome”, January 18th) and much of the recent comment on religion and faith formation in schools fail to address the underlying problem in the management of schools in Ireland– patronage.

Patronage is an outmoded model of subsidiarity, where this State abrogates its responsibility to patrons to manage our education system. It provides for what Rev Patrick Burke suggests (Jan.uary 16th) is “the opportunity for those who are motivated to set up schools with whatever ethos they happen to prefer”.

At present, there are approximately 15 patrons of schools in Ireland, all with their own agendas. Will replacing one patron with a plethora of new patrons with “whatever ethos” or agenda “they prefer” serve our education system any better?

When will this State take on its responsibilities as outlined in the Louise O’Keefe case by the European courts in 2014?

As a result of the multiplicity of patrons, many issues, other than the baptism barrier, will arise in the future as each of these new patrons vie for control of schools. – Yours, etc,

SEÁN Ó DÍOMASAIGH,

Dunsany,

Co Meath.