CATH NEWS REPORT: The man in charge of Australia's national curriculum has warned that any moves to axe religion classes could drive parents out of the public system and into private schools, said a report fromSunday Age in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Professor Barry McGaw, the chairman of the national curriculum authority said: "I don't see anything wrong with a special religious instruction that operates precisely on [the current] grounds. If we deny any place to religion in public education and wish to make it entirely [secular], we are actually basing it on a particular world view.
"And the problem with that is that religious parents might opt out of the public school system, and that would not be a good thing."
Religious instruction classes, 96 percent of which are Christian, involve volunteers teaching the doctrine of particular religions for 30 minutes per week in state primary schools, The Sunday Age said.
Many who oppose the lessons, including academic Anna Halafoff of the Religion, Ethics and Education Network Australia, propose an alternative - introducing a new academic subject to teach children about the world's religions as part of the curriculum.The Age has in recent weeks reported that Evonne Paddison, the leader of Christian group Access Ministries - which is involved in the classes in Victoria's state schools - said it provided a ''God-given open door to children ... to go and make disciples''.
Professor McGaw, however, said there were no plans to develop a separate subject on religion.
However, another curriculum expert, Tony Taylor from Monash University, who examined the Access Ministries curriculum, concluded it was ''primitively anti-educational ... a crude form of missionary indoctrination that went out of style in the 1950s''.
''Mainstream Christian schools would be mortified if this kind of ludicrous, inappropriate and exasperating garbage was found in their classrooms,'' he said.