WA Catholics 'disadvantaged' under schools RE plan

Catholic school teachers warn that thousands of Catholic school students would be disadvantaged under a plan to force them to spend as much time studying religion as core subjects.

The WA's Catholic Education Office (CEO) will replace its existing compulsory religious syllabus with one linked to the outcomes-based education system. The West Australian reports that the changes will force students to spend as much time in religion classes as they do in other subjects.

Teachers said last night that this would limit the number of other subjects students could choose, meaning their university entrance score might be damaged because they could be prevented from studying subjects they excel in.

Religious education is compulsory in Catholic high schools but it consumes only about three lessons a week and is not a formal subject.

Some teachers argue the move would disadvantage the Western Australia's 66,500 Catholic students, about 12,000 of whom are in years 11 and 12. One Catholic high school teacher, who declined to be named, said the move would limit choice because students would be forced to study religion in place of another subject.

"A kid wanting to do English literature, a language, two science and two maths couldn't do it," he said.

CEO director Ron Dullard said he expected the religion and life course to go to the bishops for approval by the middle of next year. It would also require Curriculum Council approval.

Mr Dullard denied the move would limit choice, saying it would add flexibility because religion could be used to gain tertiary entrance. The course would be available to all Years 11 and 12 students but is only compulsory in Catholic schools.

Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey said the change would mean religious knowledge would be taken more seriously.

Catholics 'disadvantaged' under compulsory TEE religion plan (The West Australian 23/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office - WA
Department of Education and Training WA
Outcomes Based Education in WA (Wikipedia)

Study shows most Catholic students reject faith (CathNews 7/12/05)

Catholic schools enforce religion (The Australian 23/3/06)

Catholic Education Office, Western Australia

23 Mar 2006