Church Fights to Keep the Faith in Schools; Ethos: More Than Religious Instruction

Article excerpt

Byline: YVONNE TARLETON

THE Catholic Church has come out fighting over its role in schools, claiming the Government is trying to push its influence to one side during the planning of new secondaries.

It is arguing strongly for parents to be able to choose to send children to a faith school.

New papers reveal that the Church is planning to continue playing a key role in the education of Irish teenagers.

In the confidential documents sent to Education Minister Batt OKeeffe, it dismissed as rubbish reports that it will pull out of education.

Instead, the Church believes that Catholic parents have the right to send their children to a Catholic secondary school, even if this means establishing a transport network to bus children to faith schools.

Already, the Church has insisted that it should have a deeper involvement in primary schools across the country.

But now senior clergy have turned their attention to second-level education, and their position paper underlines the fact that of the 31 new secondary schools opened between 1992 and 2007, only one was Catholic, and it has since closed.

According to reports, the Church had no intentions of running the new secondary schools, but it did want a fair share in green field areas.

The paper, prepared by the Bishops Commission on Education, the Association of Trustees of Catholic Schools, the Conference of the Religious of Ireland and the Assocaiton of Management of C a t h o l i c S e c o n d a r y S c h o o l s , stated: The Department of Education has mistaken the silence of religious trustees as a licence to exclude them from any consultation processes. The paper stresses that there are three community colleges due to open this year, and three others are planned for the Dublin/Meath area., while the number of Catholic secondary schools has plummeted from 461 in 1993/4 to just 393 this year, mainly due to school mergers. …