24 March, 2011

Religious Instruction in Tasmanian State Schools

Section 34 of the Education Act 1994:
Religious instruction
(1) Religious instruction for students may be provided at a State school with the approval of the Secretary.
(2) The total number of hours of religious instruction provided at a State school in a year is not to exceed the total number of weeks in that year during which the school is open for student instruction.
(3) Religious instruction at a State school is to be provided –
(a) by a member of the clergy, or another person, authorized to do so by the religious body to which that member or person belongs; and
(b) during any time the principal determines.
(4) Attendance at any class for religious instruction is not compulsory for any student.
(5) A principal may require a parent of a student at a State school to notify whether or not the student is to attend any religious instruction provided by the school.
Some pertinent parts of the Guidelines to Religious Instruction
(from http://www.education.tas.gov.au/school/parents/religion/guidelines):
Religious Instruction in State Schools: Guidelines
1. Introduction
Religious instruction in Tasmanian state schools is provided for under Section 34 of the Education Act 1994.  The Act allows for programs to be provided at state schools with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Education.
These guidelines constitute the Secretary’s requirements for program approval which build on Section 34 of the Act to govern the operation of religious instruction programs in schools.

2. Definition
Religious instruction in state schools is defined as any non-secular instruction provided to school students during any time which they are required to attend school.  Under the Education Act 1994, religious instruction programs are not part of the state-provided, secular school curriculum.

3. Principles
The principles that underpin the operation of religious instruction in state schools are:
  1. Religious instruction programs will be compatible with the codes and practices of the school and the framework of values and purposes on which the school curriculum is based.
  2. The application and approval process for religious instruction programs will be non-discriminatory and equitably applied to all religions and denominations.
  3. Religious instruction programs in schools will respect and recognise the diversity of individuals’ beliefs.
  4. Religious instruction programs will be non-discriminatory.
  5. Whilst providers of religious instruction programs may convey personal beliefs, they will not proselytise.
4. Program Requirements
c) Student participation
Students may participate in a religious instruction program if:
• their parents/carers have been fully informed [...] and
• parent/carer permission has been provided.
Parental approval for a student to participate is specific to a program, is valid for no more than one school year, and may be withdrawn at any time.

A Question:
How does the dogmatic indoctrination of “The Impact of Global Warming” in Alfred’s high school differ from religious instruction?

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