12367ENC: I've enrolled you in the class!
- Sep 27, 2013
Atheism to be taught to Irish schoolchildren
Up to 16,000 primary school pupils in non-denominational sector will get tuition in atheism, while the rest will be offered courses on the internet and on smartphone apps
Henry McDonald in Dublin
theguardian.com, Thursday 26 September 2013
In a historic move that will cheer Richard Dawkins, atheists in Ireland have secured the right to teach the republic's primary schoolchildren that God doesn't exist. The first ever atheist curriculum for thousands of primary school pupils in Ireland has been drawn up by Atheist Ireland in an education system that the Catholic church hierarchy has traditionally dominated. The class of September 2014 will be reading texts such as Dawkins' The Magic of Reality, his book aimed at children, as well as other material at four different primary levels, according to Atheist Ireland.
Up to 16,000 primary schoolchildren who attend the fast growing non-denominational Irish school sector will receive direct tuition on atheism as part of their basic introduction course to ethics and belief systems.
But Atheist Ireland's co-founder Michael Nugent stressed that all primary school pupils, including the 93% of the population who attend schools run by the Catholic church, can access their atheism course on the internet and by downloading an app on smartphones. He said these will be advertised and offered to all parents with children at primary schools in the state.
"There will be a module of 10 classes of between 30 to 40 minutes from the ages of four upwards. It is necessary because the Irish education system has for too long been totally biased in favour of religious indoctrination. And if parents whose kids are in schools under church control want to opt their kids out of learning religion (as is their right these days) then they can use our course as an alternative for their children to study," he said.
Nugent added: "Religion isn't even taught properly as an objective subject with various religions and their origins examined and explained. The teaching is to create faith formation first, not objective education. We see our course as a chance for young Irish children to get an alternative view on how the world works."
Jane Donnelly, a member of Atheist Ireland and a parent with two children in an Irish secondary school, welcomed the creation of an atheism alternative for Irish pupils. "I opted my two girls out of religious education classes and they were told to go to the library and find a philosophy book to read during RE instead. The range of philosophy books was very limited so I sent them into school each day with a copy of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion for them to read."