Mum’s mission to change school religion classes
THIS Queensland lawyer turned stay at home mum is on a mission to change the way religion is taught in Queensland state schools - something that hasn't been done for more than a century.
Mother of two and spokesperson for the Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools (QPSSS) Alison Courtice said she was shocked to find the Religious Instruction (RI) program taught at Windsor State School hadn't changed since she went to the same primary school as a child, which she discovered after sitting in on her daughter Lauren's Year Five class.
"The instructor was telling the kids 'if there's something that you want and you ask mum and she says no, then you go and ask Dad and he says no but if you take Jesus into your heart he will never say no'," Ms Courtice said.
"We're just having Sunday school in a state school classroom on a Tuesday."
Currently, Queensland legislation allows volunteers from religious groups, the majority of which are Christian, to enter state schools for up to an hour a week to teach faith instruction.
However, Ms Courtice has started a petition which has since gained almost 1600 signatures demanding legislation be changed to take religion out of state schools.
"In 1910 they (the government at the time) removed every reference in the Education Act to the word secular," Ms Courtice said.
"We don't have the word secular in our Education Act anymore, and I want to put it back."
With the current voluntary RI classes dwindling in popularity with parents, as new data reveals only 26 per cent of parents gave their child to participate this year, it seems many parents feel the current program does not align with modern Queensland.
Ms Courtice has been working for five years to replace the current program with an all-encompassing religious history and culture curriculum, rather than a program that teaches a single religion.
"I want an educationally sound program about world religions and other major world views taught by teachers from a department-approved program," she said.
"If we are educating children about the major world religions, they're being taught about basic beliefs, what their cultures are, what the celebrations and holidays are.
"What better way to ground these kids in education to deal with the religious extremism we've got in the world."