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Extent: Paperback

Publisher: Veritas

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Veritas Publications

The Value of Religious Education in our Primary Schools

by Commission for Catholic Education of IBC


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The desire to create more inclusive schools and welcoming communities speaks to a tradition within the Catholic Church of inter-religious engagement and learning.
Because of this tradition, Catholic Religious Education, particularly since the Second Vatican Council, is committed to teaching and learning about and from other religions, not as an option but as something intrinsic to the definition of Christian identity.

Catholic schools are as inclusive as any other type of school. The ‘on the ground’ experience across the country of Catholic schools as inclusive is borne out by the Economic and Social Research Institute
publication, School Sector Variation among Primary Schools in Ireland (2012). In this study, it was found that there were no significant differences in pupils’ perspectives on their school experience across the three sectors (Catholic, Multi-denominational and Minority Faith) surveyed. The research found that most children across the
three sectors liked their school and their teachers and reportedn doing well in their schoolwork. Worth noting is that pupils who were particularly positive about the school and teachers came from a wide variety of different backgrounds.

Faith schools exist because there are parents who wish to have their children educated in accordance with their religious convictions.
Catholic primary schools are embedded in parishes and local communities throughout the country. All surveys demonstrate a
very high level of parental satisfaction with the service provided by these schools. Some recent comments caricature the real
contribution of faith schools to Irish life.

8 Inspired by Christian faith and love, Catholic schools strive to be caring and inclusive communities. They have adapted to demographic change with significant net migration into Ireland and many of them have led the way in integrating migrants into
local communities. They have been leaders in areas such as social inclusion, special needs and Traveller education.

Every school has a particular ethos or characteristic spirit. The ethos of a school is given expression in multiple ways and it informs all aspects of the life of the school. These include the understanding
of the human person. This anthropological question is central: what vision of the human person underpins educational endeavours?
Children today inhabit a world in which they are bombarded
with messages dominated by a consumer and material vision.
Catholic schools seek to provide space, both intellectual and
emotional, where pupils can explore and imagine a world with a
spiritual horizon. This points to the possibility, the invitation, of understanding the human person in solidarity with other people, especially those most in need, being responsible for the world in which we live and open to a relationship with God.

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