Changes planned for religious instruction in state schools

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jan 2020, 9:55AM
Education Minister Chris Hipkins wants to have a national conversation on the matter. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Changes planned for religious instruction in state schools

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jan 2020, 9:55AM

Parents may soon have to give explicit written permission for their child to be given religious instruction in state schools.

Currently, schools are advised to get parental consent, but a planned law change will make that compulsory.

It's detailed in the Education and Training Bill, which passed its first reading before Christmas.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins told the Herald he believes in secular education.

He hopes that a provision in the current law which allows schools to close for religious instruction, will no longer be required.

Sonja Farmer, spokesperson for the Secular Education Network, told Tim Dower that there is currently provision for people to come in and teach religious instruction in the Christian faith, often without parental consent or knowledge. 

"The provision coming through with this current bill is going to be very helpful as the parents will know explicitly that the courses that are going to take place are religious based and they have to give permission."

She says that it means parents won't find out after the lessons have taken place. 

Farmer says there is a difference between religious instruction, which focuses in instruction in a specific faith, and religious education, which looks at different religions around the world. 

"There's no harm in that whatsoever. Religious education would be a great thing," she says, as it would teach children about different beliefs and non-beliefs.