Ireland must take back control of its schools from Catholic bishops

I have just come across the curricula for a Dublin girls’ school.

Ireland must take back control of its schools from Catholic bishops

The course includes the English, French and Italian languages; History, Geography, Chronology, etc; Writing and Arithmetic, Globes and elements of Astronomy; Music, Dancing and Drawing, and Needle Work. The school charges £21 a year for day pupils. A preparatory class for pupils under 10 years includes English, French, Writing, Arithmetic and Dancing. There’s only one vacation: the month of July.

Mrs Morgan’s School at 15 Upper Temple Street offered all this in an advertisement in the Dublin Morning Register of 8/4/1833. Mrs Morgan wasn’t alone. Others advertised their schools, offering choice. With a small twist, if latter-day parents were given vouchers by the State and allowed to shop for the schools of their choice, we could empower parents, rather than vested interests. Small rural schools might survive a bit longer.

After 42 years in the European Project there’s not a European mainland language such as German taught in our national schools, restricting our emigrants to Anglophone countries. My grandsons recently moved to the French, predominantly Roman Catholic, province of Quebec. Their weekly class-contact time in their neighbourhood school is now five hours longer. Moreover, religious indoctrination has no place in these schools; it is faithfully provided for those who want it in ‘Sunday school’, freeing up at least another 2.5 hours a week. Mandarin (Chinese) or swimming are options. Every second day is taught entirely through French – a scheme we could well copy here for the Irish language.

Ireland is the only member of the OECD which has surrendered, in large measure, the control over its schooling to the Bishop-agents of a church – a foreign State - they remind us. Yes they are foreign agents, for no Irish citizen has a say in their appointment or removal, as they once did. This managerial system is indifferent to costs, to efficiency and removed from, and occasionally in conflict with, scholars’ educational needs. It’s not surprising that school employees call the shots. Religion doesn’t butter the turnips. We need to take schooling back into local, democratic, hands, not for its own sake, but for our children’s sake.

John Colgan

The Toll House


Co Kildare

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