Schools and faith formation

 

Sir, – Rev Patrick G Burke (January 4th) questions the use of the word “equality” in the name “Education Equality”, an organisation of which I am a committee member. Rev Burke suggests that the use of the term “equality” is misplaced. I wonder how this could be so.

Equality is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities”. In human rights law, equality means that persons are not treated disfavourably on account of certain characteristics, such as gender, race, sexual orientation and religion.

National school admissions policies that allow children without a religion or belonging to a minority religion to be placed at the bottom of the list for school places in 96 per cent of schools in Ireland do not provide equality.

Nor are families’ beliefs equally respected when families of differing beliefs cannot choose whether or not their children attend faith-formation teaching one particular religion in school.

That is why Education Equality is calling for equality – equal access to schools and equal respect for children of all beliefs during the school day. The support received by Education Equality from people belonging to all belief systems, both religious and non-religious, shows that equality in the education system is not an aim sought by a “tiny group of people”, but a fundamental human right that must be protected in a democracy. – Yours, etc,

NIKKI MURPHY,

Terenure,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Rev Burke complains that Education Equality pushes aside the views of others who do not agree with it without any consideration. That is very far from the truth. Just because people disagree with you does not mean that you have not been listened to. – Yours, etc,

SIMON DONAGH,

Grangebellew,

Drogheda,

Co Louth.