Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has formally removed the “archaic” rule which classed religion as the most important aspect of education in primary schools.
Ms O’Sullivan told the Irish Primary Principals Network’s (IPPN) conference last night that she had rescinded Rule 68 earlier in the day.
She said the Education Act still continues to provide for the school patron to determine the ethos of a school.
“But Rule 68 was a symbol,” she said. “A symbol of our past, and not our future. The language in the rule was archaic. And I’m glad it’s gone.”
She said that science education currently gets less than half the time that religion in the curriculum.
“And of course there are many other calls, from philosophy to coding to modern languages and financial education, all of which it is argued should feature on the primary curriculum,” she said.
Ms O’Sullivan said she had told her department staff to begin to identify other rules for rescinding.
“It is anachronistic for us to still look to a set of rules drafted in 1965, many of which will have been superseded by curricular or legislative changes,” she said.
“Of greater importance for our schools in many ways, will be the development of a new curriculum for all of our primary schools, which will provide education about religion, beliefs, and ethics.”
She said consultation on that curriculum is under way and when complete it would trigger “another necessary discussion” including how much time should be allocated to it.
“Currently, 30 minutes of each school day is allocated to religious education. Is that enough, or is it too much?”
Ahead of its conference, IPPN had said that the 2.5 hours given over to religion each week increased as schools began preparing children for sacraments such as First Holy Communion and Confirmation. It said the time given to core curriculum subjects such as English, Irish, and Maths had to be “sacrificed” to enable the liturgical preparation to happen.
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