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Catholic Primary Schools

A Policy for Provision into the Future

ISBN13: 9781847300737

ISBN10: 1847300731

Publisher: Veritas

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  • 2 October 2007 | Irish Catholic Bishops Conference

    Irish culture and society are going through a period of accelerated change. Nowhere is this more evident than in the education system. For much of the twentieth century Irish primary schools operated in a society that was largely homogenous, where the level of change was gradual in response to the needs of a fledgling State. With the advent of entry into the European Union and the resultant upturn in the Irish economy the character, nature and quality of life in Ireland has changed. The growth in material prosperity, the questioning of traditional values and the influx of people to Ireland has introduced a complexity to education that is a challenge for both Church and State. This brief policy document is offered as an indication of how the Catholic Church sees its role in the provision of primary education in the years ahead.

  • Irish Catholic Bishops Conference



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  • Introduction

    Irish culture and society are going through a period of accelerated change. Nowhere is this more evident than in the education system. For much of the twentieth century Irish primary schools operated in a society that was largely homogenous, where the level of change was gradual in response to the needs of a fledgling State. With the advent of entry into the European Union and the resultant upturn in the Irish economy the character, nature and quality of life in Ireland has changed. The growth in material prosperity, the questioning of traditional values and the influx of people to Ireland has introduced a complexity to education that is a challenge for both Church and State. This brief policy document is offered as an indication of how the Catholic Church sees its role in the provision of primary education in the years ahead.

    1. Rights and Duties

    1. Rights and Duties of Parents

    1.1 The Catholic Church upholds the primacy of parents rights in the education of their children (Declaration on Christian Education [DCE], 3). These rights are well established and recognised in international instruments of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) declares that Parents shall have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Art. 26.3). The United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) upholds the liberty of parents to choose for their children schools which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions (Art. 13.3). The European Convention on Human Rights states that In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and teaching, the state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching as is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions (Protocol 1, Art. 2). The Irish Constitution guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children (Art. 42.1). The Catholic Church, in upholding the constitutional rights of Catholic parents to the provision of Catholic education for their children, welcomes the exercise of this right by parents of other faith traditions and none as well.

    1.2 The Church, recognising that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, strives to assist them in this task. While all parents have both the duty and the right to educate their children, Catholic parents have also the duty and the right to choose schools that can best promote the Catholic education of their children (Can 793).

    2. The Role of the Church

    2.1 The Catholic Church is committed to providing Catholic schools to cater for the needs of parents who wish their children to have a Catholic education. Therefore the children of Catholic parents have first claim on admission to Catholic schools. Wherever possible, in keeping with their ethos, and provided that they have places and resources, Catholic schools welcome children of other faiths or none.

    2.2 The duty and the right of Catholic parents to choose schools that can best promote the Catholic education of their children (Can 793) will normally be exercised by parents sending their children to Catholic
    schools where these are available. In the absence of a Catholic school, the duty of providing for Catholic education remains primarily that of the parents with the assistance of the parish. In situations like these,
    parishes will endeavour, at the request of parents and with their cooperation and support, to provide appropriate religious education and preparation for the sacraments for the children who need it.
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