Irish Education Minister: Cut Religion to Free Up Class Time

Cut Religion to Free Up Class Time

Irish education minister Ruari Quinn asked primary schools to use time allocated for religion to improve students’ reading skills and mathematical abilities instead. The minister offered his suggestion after principals shared with him the problems their schools were facing in coping with an “overloaded curriculum.”

Quinn’s solution to the problem requires schools in Ireland to allot 30 minutes each week in developing literacy and numeracy skills in pupils. His comment was considered controversial and it attracted speedy responses from a number of Catholic bishops.

“We know in Ireland that parents will generally wish their children attend schools that support their own convictions. The church and our Constitution support this choice,” said a spokesperson.

Quinn made his remark only days before the start of Catholic Schools’ Week, after the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) asked how they were expected to make time to teach 11 subjects and do extra work. While attending the IPPN annual conference, president Brendan McCabe requested the Department of Education as well as the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to offer a solution to the problem that schools have been facing.

Of the 1,100 principals present, some were astounded when Quinn said if it was up to him, he would make time by cutting down on religion. In other countries, he elucidated, teachers focus primarily on education while faith formation is handled by the parish.

Earlier, schools were required to spend 30 minutes each day on religion but a survey carried out by Irish National Teachers’ Organization found that more than 70 percent teachers spent additional time in preparing students for sacraments. In fact, some teachers were found to dedicate nine hours each week for sacramental preparation.

Photo Credits: By William Murphy

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