United Nations Criticizes Ireland for Prevailing Religious Schools


The United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recently called on Ireland to increase the number of nonreligious schools in its education system. Urging the country to review the admission policies of all of its existing schools with the aim of eliminating discriminatory criteria for enrollment and asking the country to set up a regulatory mechanism that would monitor school policies in the future, CESCR demanded Ireland step up its efforts to make education more inclusive.

Responding to CESCR’s report, Atheist Ireland, which promotes reason, ethics, secularism and atheism, said, “Both major UN Human Rights Committees have now condemned Ireland's lack of separation of church and state in education and other laws. Last year it was the Committee on Civil and Political Rights, and this year it is the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESC).”

The organization also said that through its various efforts, it had finally succeeded in getting four United Nations committees, namely those on Civil and Political Rights, Rights of the Child, Racial Discrimination as well as ESC, to call for secular education in Ireland.

In April this year, Educate Together, a non-government organization that runs all-inclusive, multi-denominational schools in Ireland, said that the control exercised by religious bodies in the country’s education system had reached shocking levels, with 97 percent primary schools being run by religious denominations.

“There are still large areas of the country where parents have no alternative but to send their children to denominational schools,” Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe said.

Similarly, National Secular Society campaigns manager Stephen Evans said, “Ireland has extraordinary levels of religious control over primary education in particular. Religious influence or control of state education should be a thing of the past, not a prospect for the future. Clearly the educational offering in Ireland needs to change – and likewise in the UK, where faith-based, taxpayer funded education is equally inappropriate and undesirable.”

Photo Credits: Time, Inc.

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