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More non-Catholic families looking to Catholic schools

Almost a quarter of students enrolled in Catholic schools in southeast Queensland are non-Catholics, according to a report in today's Brisbane Courier-Mail.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Brisbane told the paper that the number of non-Catholics in Catholic schools in the southeast had increased by just over 20% in the past four years, rising to 22.5% of students.

"Many non-Catholic families are seeking a faith-based education for their children," the spokesman said.

Other families are also believed to be seeking an affordable private school education.

At the same time, about 50% of Queensland Catholic students attend state schools.

Catholic Federation of Parents and Friends Associations executive officer Paul Dickie said yesterday rising fees are preventing some Catholic families from attending Catholic schools.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission director Joe McCorley, speaking during Catholic Education Week, said Catholic families are not required, but encouraged, to send their children to Catholic schools.

"Our evangelisation mission is to encourage more Catholics into the Catholic system," he said.

Mr McCorley said Catholic families are carrying a "very high level of debt", more than $100 million, to finance school capital works in Queensland.

But the Church is still unable to fund new schools in population growth areas such as Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, and Jimboomba, southwest of Brisbane.

"We are unable to put schools where parents want them," Mr McCorley said.

"Catholic families are getting very close to the level of debt that they can carry."

Mr McCorley said the Federal Government has not increased the real value of capital funding to Catholic schools for 10 years.

Catholic schools struggle with $100 million debt (Courier-Mail 29/7/04)

Queensland Catholic Education Commission

29 Jul 2004