Once again the issue of over-subscription to Catholic national schools has been raised in the national media. This morning Newstalk Breakfast covered the Irish Catholic’s survey that less than 2% of Catholic schools in Ireland are oversubscribed. The implication is that there are not that many that children being refused access to their local school on the basis of religion. It is simply unacceptable that any state-funded schools in Ireland continue to be allowed to discriminate against children on the basis of religion. Listen here.
Perhaps more unhelpful in this continuing debate is the implication that access is the only issue parents face when choosing a school for their children. It is undoubtedly a fact that many children do get accepted into Catholic schools and those children have to ‘opt-out’ of religion instruction, marginalised and othered in their own classrooms. This is an inadequate arrangement and does not address the inequalities embedded within the Irish primary school system.
This, in addition to the democratically-run and child-centred ethos of Educate Together, is why parents want Educate Together schools for their children. Nineteen areas still wait for the Educate Together schools they were promised by the outgoing Government and start-up groups around the country are clamouring for Educate Together at primary and second level - expressions of parental interest are reaching up to 15,000-20,000.
Of course every child should be able to attend their local school. But their local school should treat all children with equal respect in the classroom, regardless of religious, social or cultural background. Educate Together is working towards a day when all children have access to a school that is truly inclusive and equality-based. We are asking all our supporters to ask all election candidates to commit to Educate Together’s 4 Essentials for Equality in Education