THE NSW government should hold a review of scripture in state schools after Department of Education figures from Hunter schools raised serious concerns about possible guideline breaches, according to a human rights group.
Figures published in the Newcastle Herald raised questions about whether some schools tried to minimise the number of students who opt out of scripture, or provided misleading or confusing information about parents’ right to have their children opt out, Human Rights Advocacy Australia said.
The department figures were from nine Hunter state schools which received scripture through boards backed by Christian fundamentalist group Generate Ministries. They showed 100per cent attendance at scripture in some schools. At other schools as few as 13 students receiving scripture prevent more than 100 other students from being taught anything at all for one period a week, under current guidelines.
Human Rights Advocacy Australia spokesman Darrin Morgan said there was evidence that some state high schools repressed information to parents because of the ‘‘administrative or logical difficulties’’ of a system under which children who opt out still have to be supervised, but cannot be taught a lesson.
Figures from Hunter state high schools where parents received correct information about opting out showed only a minority supported scripture.
It was time the NSW government allowed the public the right to make submissions to a review about religion in schools, Mr Morgan said. The last review was in 1980.
Human Rights Advocacy Australia supports a compulsory philosophy and religious cultures course to replace scripture. The course would consider religions from a sociological perspective.