Religious Education Questionnaire

Photo of woman with clipboard writing with penIn 2010, the Humanist Society of Victoria sent the following questionnaire on religious education to all parliamentary candidates for the Victorian elections in an effort to gauge their attitudes to religious instruction in schools.

  1. In your estimation, within the system of public education in Victoria, is the current influence of religious organizations appropriate, overmuch or insufficient? In the future, is the pressure from religions likely to remain largely unchanged, to increase or to decrease?
  2. Would you support reducing the state’s responsibility for education by fully privatizing some government schools? What is your reaction to the idea of handing over state schools to faith groups or churches, as in England?
  3. Did you know that Victorian state schools have the statutory obligation to be secular, except only for periods of ‘special religious instruction’ which are conducted by non-teachers from outside the schools? (Education & Training Reform Act 2006, section 2.2.10(1).) Would you agree that to be secular is to be independent of particular religious dogma and affiliation, as the proposed national curriculum is, for instance?
  4. Do you consider the institution of special religious instruction in primary schools to be socially divisive to any extent?
  5. Did you know that state schools may teach comparative religion – that is, the historical and cultural significance of different religions, world-views and ethical traditions (‘general religious education’, section 2.2.10(4) of the Act) – but that it is practically absent from the state primary sector, where special religious instruction prevails?
  6. The Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools runs training courses in philosophy of ethics. But is it not a government responsibility to provide courses that would equip teachers to deliver general religious education under the Act?
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