Victorian government releases new guidelines for teaching religion
VICTORIAN students can make Christmas decorations and sing carols in class but hymns are forbidden.
This is one of the new rules put in place by the Victorian government to tackle how religion is taught in schools.
Students will also be allowed to dress up for the Hindu festival, Diwali, or indulge in sweet delights from Muslim’s Eid celebrations.
But looking at the Bible, Koran or any other religious text will be strictly banned in class time from next year.
Prayers and instructions on how to live in accordance to a particular faith will also be unacceptable in the classroom.
Under the new government plan, Special Religious Instruction can be taught in schools in the hour before or after school or at lunch times by an accredited instructor approved by the Minister for Education.
A teacher must also be present and children must have permission from their parents to attend.
Fairness in Religions in School chief executive Lara Wood has been fighting to eliminate Special Religious Instruction from state schools and while she welcomed the changes, she still had her concerns.
“We are worried about the lunchtime classes because we know from past experience the volunteers do try to convert the kids and don’t stick to the curriculum,” she said.
“We are concerned that could happen.”
Fairness in Religions in School chief executive Lara Wood welcomes the government’s new guidelines but is concerned they could create more work for teachers. Picture: David Caird.Source:News Corp Australia
Principals get to decide whether they want Special Religious Instruction within their school at all and Ms Wood commended the government for giving them more power.
“If a school did decide to take it on, it would mean a lot more work for schools because they will have to closely monitor the program to make sure the rules are being followed,” she said.
In Victorian state schools previously, children were being split up to learn about their religion during class time.
Ms Wood said school work was impacted and children were segregated.
“The new guidelines will remove this problem altogether though and I think it’s fantastic,” she said.
It will now be the teacher’s responsibility to educate children generally about religion and the main holidays and celebrations.
On occasion, guest speakers who are representatives of a particular faith can explain their religion further to students but they must not promote it.
Ms Wood said teaching children about all religions would make them more tolerant, respectful and accepting.
“We hope Victoria will now lead the way for other states,” she said.