NZ Schools face push to remove Religious Education from schools
Across, New Zealand about 40 % of primary schools engage in some form of religious instruction, CEC is the largest provider of programs operating in state schools. Approximately 2,500 volunteers across the country in 600 schools by invitation to teach values from a curriculum called “Life Choices.” Children learn values that support the New Zealand School Curriculum, combined with stories and values from the Bible. Principles include: Treat others as you would like to be treated, show respect, being a good friend, having self-discipline and perseverance, being brave and doing the right thing.
The Secular Education Network (SEN) launched an appeal to the Human Rights Review Tribunal in May 2017 to review the legislation governing religious instruction in New Zealand schools suggesting that Religious Instruction is discriminatory. They claim that "hundreds and hundreds" of schools currently have curriculum supporting unhealthy religious education. SEN spokesperson Tanya Jacob described that what is actually happening in schools is “Christian indoctrination.” Responding to these sensational claims, the Churches Education Commission (CEC), New Zealand’s largest provider of Religious Education was swift to describe the allegations as false.
Please sign this petition now to show your support for continued freedom of religious education in selected NZ schools.
Whilst the SEN stated that they simply are calling for a review of religious instruction in NZ schools, this is clearly smoke and mirrors. It is evident that they want the end of the programs provided in NZ schools by using scaremongering tactics to try to gain support for their cause. One of the latest claims made by SEN spokesperson Tanya Jacob was that "some of the content can be disturbingly similar to grooming.” The implication here is that educators were in some way trying to manipulate young children’s minds towards a particular ideology which they are likening to being a ‘sexual predator.’
Responding to these allegations, CEC has stated that what the SEN are suggesting is false and not how religious education is actually delivered in schools. The CEC has written curriculum which utilises the key competencies and values of the NZ curriculum. It follows the Ministry of Education guidelines and the Human Rights Commission guidelines in relation to what is appropriate content for religious instruction. An overview of the curriculum and its lesson plans are provided to schools every year and parents can freely access this information.
Under the Education Act, teaching in NZ primary schools must be entirely secular. However religious instruction is permitted for up to one hour a week (20 hours per year.) It is important to note that Schools choose to participate in the programs, with the decision being made by school boards in conjunction with parents and teachers. All parents also have the choice as to whether their children attend classes or not. It is made clear that these classes are not compulsory. Secular parents for example, who want to emphasise ‘no religion’ to their children can freely opt out of these classes. Despite all this, the SEN continues to protest against the existence of these classes at all, wanting to remove freedom of religion for those families who wish to engage in the classes.
This is not the first time that the SEN has expressed their dissatisfaction with religion in schools. While New Zealand continues to grow in its diversity and multiculturalism as a nation the demand for Christian religious education remains. Christian values in education are currently still very important for many thousands of families across the country, and as such there should continue to have the opportunity for these programmes to remain.
Please sign this petition to support the continued right to Religious Education in selected NZ schools. Religious freedom is the core value at stake here. The SEN continue to attack these important freedoms for all families in NZ. By signing here you show your support for the continued freedom of schools and communities to choose to participate in religious education programs.
This petition along with your signature will be sent to the new Minister for Education Hon Chris Hipkins highlighting this issue as an important concern for families in NZ.
Sign this petition now!
Religious Education in schools is an important value for many families in NZ