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Current teacher shortage may pose a difficulty in implementing new Religious Education directive - Kathleen Funchion TD

22 February, 2018 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Kathleen Funchion TD has said she welcomes the Department of Education’s directive to make religious education in secondary schools optional.

Teachta Funchion said;

“I welcome this new directive which acknowledges parents and student’s right to choose whether or not they wish to take part in religious study in school.

“It removes the compulsory element of religious education in Irish schools for those who do not wish to participate and provides for students and families who do wish to participate also.

“Until now, students who did not want to do religion in these schools were frequently required to remain physically in the classroom while the religion lesson was in progress. 

“Parents will also be asked if they wish for their children to attend, or take part in, religious worship or other services.

“Parents are to be advised about the nature, frequency, timing, and duration of the services to facilitate such decisions.

“While these changes might not be possible until new timetables are in place for next autumn and time would also be required to establish the wishes of parents and pupils, it is a step forward in recognising families right to choose.

“The constitutional right not to attend religious instruction must be given effect through changed practices and an alternative, meaningful alternative programme provided for those who opt out.

“I do, however, think that the current teacher shortage may pose a difficulty in implementing this directive as schools are already struggling to meet the subject needs of pupils.

“The Department must make available any extra resources that schools require in order to put this in place fully and properly for students to get the full benefit.

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