Renae Barker writes in The Conversation (21.8.17) that religious education offered in Australian state schools has variations in the quality of delivery and limited provisions for the students who opt out.
‘The role and place of religion in state schools has hit national headlines again in recent weeks. In Queensland, controversy has arisen over a proposed policy to restrict proselytising by students. And the New South Wales government’s religious education program, in which students not taking part in the classes pick up litter or do colouring in, has come under renewed criticism.
‘Religion forms part of state schooling via specific religious instruction referred to as special religious education (SRE) or special religious instruction (SRI), the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), and general religious instruction.
‘The last of these forms part of a student’s general cultural education, and rarely causes controversy. But the first two have been the source of intense debate.
‘… As Australia’s religious demographics continue to change in the coming years and decades the place of religion in state school education will continue to be controversial.
‘Rather than responding with kneejerk reactions to controversial incidents state education departments, SRE/SRI providers and chaplaincy providers must evolve their programs to keep up with the needs of all state school children – both the religious and non-religious.’