Stephen O’Rowe writes
Late in April, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, the union representing university lecturers, put forward a proposal for the removla of compulsory religion courses from teacher training colleges. The aim of the proposal is to abolish religious courses in teacher training, replacing it with an ethics module, leaving religious modules optional for student teachers. The proposal has surfaced to deal with the increasingly secular and multi-cultural society Ireland has become.
At present, all trainees must study denomination-specific religious courses, the majority of which are Roman Catholic, regardless of their own personal beliefs. Primary school teachers, specifically, are required to implement these teachings in class as part of the school ethos and daily teaching.
A recent survey carried out by INTO, shows that 67 percent of employed teachers teach religion willingly while only 24 percent were uncomfortable with teaching it. Furthermore, the survey saw 34 percent of teachers agreed with a State takeover of schools and another 47 percent said the Catholic Church should renounce its control over a number of its schools.
The proposal, which was supposed to be debated during the last weekend in April at IFUT’s annual delegate conference, was never fully discussed, and the decision on the proposal was referred. IFUT’s general secretary, Mike Jennings, told LookLeft that the proposal will most likely be discussed further at the next annual delegate conference in Autumn, where the board will vote for or against the proposal. If the motion is passed, it could cause a huge change in the Church’s dominance over the curriculum in state schools.