Keep religion out of schools
Public schools are now host to a wide range of ethnic and religious origins. The practice of conducting religious assemblies or of teaching any particular religion within the public curriculum is now completely inappropriate.
Religion is a very personal choice and it is the responsibility of every student’s parents to decide on, and provide, an appropriate religious education.
Public schools have the duty of maintaining religious neutrality both in the curriculum and in school assemblies. Instead of teaching or practicing the semantics of any particular religion, comparative religious studies should promote a respectful and tolerant awareness of all significant religions present in the community.
Giving the students an understanding of religious alternatives and an appreciation of common themes will hopefully engender and attitude of tolerance and respect among the various religious factions represented in the class, in the school and in society.
In this way the school will fulfil its role of preparing students, not only for life in the community but for a time when they achieve the maturity to make an informed personal – rather than inherited – decision about their own personal beliefs.
On this platform, the school should be free to commemorate national religious holidays without criticism. Another valuable role of education is to demonstrate that while the host country practices tolerance and respect of all ethnicities and religions, it has a cultural heritage of its own that will not be undermined or repressed.
Merely witnessing Christmas celebrations for example does nothing to corrupt young Jewish or Muslim minds. Parents objecting to such exposure always have the choice of dedicated ethnic schools or of emigration but while they choose to live in a community that celebrates Christmas they can have no meaningful objection.
Nevertheless, it would be appropriate to include important minority dates and celebrations in each day’s assembly whether it be Hanukkah, Ramadan, St Patrick's Day or any other day of note and this will help reinforce the message of respect for other cultures and beliefs.
School catering managers should try to keep abreast of all dietary restrictions and allergies present in the student population and at least ensure that important ingredients or processes are clearly identified – preferably in an advance schedule that gives parents the opportunity to make alternative arrangements as necessary. But no minority of religion or allergy can expect to dictate menus on this scale.
Teachers have their own beliefs, students have their own beliefs, society has its owner cultural beliefs; all of those should be respected but none of those should be imposed on the general student population.
Keep any specific religious teaching out of schools!