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Thread: Why are state primary schools allowed to discriminate based on religion?

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    Politics.ie Member seabhcan's Avatar
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    Default Why are state primary schools allowed to discriminate based on religion?

    Virtually all Irish primary schools have a religious ethos. I'm not religious myself, but that part doesn't bother me massively to be honest. Religion surrounds us - an education which ignored that would not be good preparation for life.

    What does bother me is that tax payer funded schools are allowed to officially discriminate against 4 year old kids based on their parent's religious belief. National schools are allowed to ask for a baptismal cert. Several schools have official selection procedures which give preference to religious kids in other areas over non-religious kids who live near the school. I spoke to a principle of one school yesterday to laid it out for me.

    First in the queue are Catholic kids in the area. Then kids who have brothers in the school (who are presumably mostly catholic too). Then non-Catholic kids of other religions in the area. Then Catholic kids from other areas. Finally, at the end of the queue, are non-religious kids in the area. Basically a Catholic school prefers to take a Hindu kid who lives far from the school over a local kid who has no religion.

    Now - if there were places reserved for non-religious kids somewhere else it wouldn't be too bad. But there is one tiny Educate Together school about 10km from us. As well as being massively over subscribed - it is not, actually, reserved for non-religious kids - anyone can go there and they don't ask about religion. They have less than 20 places each year in total.

    So basically, being born into a non-religious family means that a kid may lose his right to education. Is this right?

    Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights forbids religious discrimination by the state. Yet, state funded schools in Ireland blatantly and openly do so.

    I believe this is probably illegal. State funded primary schools should be forbidden from asking for baptismal certs. 4 year olds don't choose their religion or non-religion. They should not be discriminated against based on their parents beliefs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    Virtually all Irish primary schools have a religious ethos. I'm not religious myself, but that part doesn't bother me massively to be honest. Religion surrounds us - an education which ignored that would not be good preparation for life.

    What does bother me is that tax payer funded schools are allowed to officially discriminate against 4 year old kids based on their parent's religious belief. National schools are allowed to ask for a baptismal cert. Several schools have official selection procedures which give preference to religious kids in other areas over non-religious kids who live near the school. I spoke to a principle of one school yesterday to laid it out for me.

    First in the queue are Catholic kids in the area. Then kids who have brothers in the school (who are presumably mostly catholic too). Then non-Catholic kids of other religions in the area. Then Catholic kids from other areas. Finally, at the end of the queue, are non-religious kids in the area. Basically a Catholic school prefers to take a Hindu kid who lives far from the school over a local kid who has no religion.

    Now - if there were places reserved for non-religious kids somewhere else it wouldn't be too bad. But there is one tiny Educate Together school about 10km from us. As well as being massively over subscribed - it is not, actually, reserved for non-religious kids - anyone can go there and they don't ask about religion. They have less than 20 places each year in total.

    So basically, being born into a non-religious family means that a kid may lose his right to education. Is this right?

    Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights forbids religious discrimination by the state. Yet, state funded schools in Ireland blatantly and openly do so.

    I believe this is probably illegal. State funded primary schools should be forbidden from asking for baptismal certs. 4 year olds don't choose their religion or non-religion. They should not be discriminated against based on their parents beliefs.
    The reason is because they aren't "state" schools.

    They are private non-fee paying schools, existing on a 100% tax payer subsidy.

    Private, like 99% of all Irish schools.

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    Politics.ie Member Sync's Avatar
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    Oh sure. A state school discriminating on that basis would clearly be out of order. If I were you I'd write a signed letter to the DOE, your local TD and the media identifying the headmaster and the school and outlining the actions.

    Private schools hold have more leeway though as currently allowed by the law.
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    Providing State funded educational resources on the basis of the religious belief is bizarre in the extreme for a Republic!

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    Politics.ie Member seabhcan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trainwreck View Post
    The reason is because they aren't "state" schools.

    They are private non-fee paying schools, existing on a 100% tax payer subsidy.

    Private, like 99% of all Irish schools.
    They are 'national' schools. And are 100% state funded. Their staff are all employed by the state. I suspect that the ECHR would rule that they are defacto state schools and religious discrimination is illegal.

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    Politics.ie Member lies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trainwreck View Post
    The reason is because they aren't "state" schools.

    They are private non-fee paying schools, existing on a 100% tax payer subsidy.

    Private, like 99% of all Irish schools.
    Nonsense. They are state schools.

    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_school_(Ireland)

    The State is a religious one and so are its schools.
    You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw39tcyg7So&sns=em

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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    They are 'national' schools. And are 100% state funded. Their staff are all employed by the state. I suspect that the ECHR would rule that they are defacto state schools and religious discrimination is illegal.
    The Staff are employed by the Bishop and must be good Catholics while they are paid by the State.

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    Politics.ie Member Asparagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lies View Post
    Nonsense. They are state schools.

    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_school_(Ireland)

    The State is a religious one and so are its schools.
    In Ireland, a national school is a type of primary school that is financed directly by the State, but administered jointly by the State, a patron body, and local representatives. There are other forms of primary school, generally private denominational schools attached to secondary schools - unlike their second level counterparts, these primary level private schools receive no support from the state.

    In national schools, most major policies such as the curriculum and teacher salaries and conditions are managed by the State through the Department of Education and Science. Minor policies of the school are managed by local people, often directed by a member of the clergy, as representative of the patron, through a local board of management. Most primary schools in Ireland fall into this category, which is a pre-independence concept.
    The link you put forward describes the National Schools as State funded but policed by Priests.


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    Politics.ie Member lies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcolebrooke View Post
    The Staff are employed by the Bishop and must be good Catholics while they are paid by the State.
    More nonsense.

    There's over 200 State schools that are not Catholic in Ireland and that number is growing.

    Bishops don't employ staff at Jewish or COI or NonDenom schools.
    You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw39tcyg7So&sns=em

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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    They are 'national' schools. And are 100% state funded. Their staff are all employed by the state. I suspect that the ECHR would rule that they are defacto state schools and religious discrimination is illegal.
    They have their budget 100% funded by the taxpayers from general government revenue.

    That makes them susidised private schools that, within the legislative requirements for curriculum, health and safety etc. can do whatever they want, including giving priority to preferred religions or "regular church goers" or whatever.


    That is the answer to your OP. Yes it is stupid and discriminatory, but they are private schools and can do so if they wish. I don't care if you don't like the answer to your OP, but that is it.

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