Perspectives on Special Topics
Considering the long involvement of the Christian churches in the ownership and conduct of schools in Trinidad and Tobago, it is natural that religious instruction played a significant role inside the classrooms and in the debates of education policy makers. The view of all the churches, Christian and non-Christian, has always been that religious instruction must be integrated into the teaching of other subjects, that schools must have a religious atmosphere and that religious instruction must be delivered primarily by classroom teachers whose own lives should exemplify the influence of religion.1 The Roman Catholic Church went further than other Christian churches in insisting that all its members must send their children to Roman Catholic schools where available. During the time of Archbishop Flood, religious sanctions were applied to negligent parents.2
While differing from the churches on the question how religious instruction was to be integrated into the curriculum, government officials responsible for education, from emancipation up to at least the middle of the twentieth century, shared the views of the clerics that religious instruction was an absolute necessity in education. Both clerics and government officials believed that morality and character in children could best be founded on religious instruction, and that the preservation of social order and well-being was dependent on the diffusion of religious morality. As Lord Harris once put it, "without religious principles no society of man can flourish".3 Clerics and government officials, however, had a long history of differences over the implementation of policy; each side had special interests of great importance to itself, but not necessarily of any priority to the other side.
Religious instruction can be segmented into three broad interrelated areas of activity: the teaching of Bible knowledge which hopefully could aid religious