Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘education

Religion in public schools – NO!

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All I wanted to do was check the footy results.  Unfortunately I stumbled across an article in The Age reporting the Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to teach christian religion.  I am astounded!  In Victoria we have a Liberal government.  One of the foundation principles of the Liberal party is freedom of the individual!

From the party’s web site:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

Forcing my children to learn christian religion, or ANY religion, is denying my rights and freedoms.  Forcing my children into religious education is certainly NOT minimising interference in my daily life!  This all seems to stem from 2006, when we did not have a Liberal government, so I hope the Victorian Government acts and acts NOW on this issue that is so against the principles of the party.

We are also supposed to have freedom of religion in this country.  This issue has caused me to change my vote once before at a federal level.  This time I will voice my disapproval more strongly!

The Humanist Society has set up a website to “garner views on the issue” and is taking legal action against the Education Department.

Australia is a country of people from many different lands, many different cultures and many different religions.  We are are multicultural society and forcing christianity into schools is NOT the Australian way.  Read the article and see what it is suggested the children who opt out of the classes are going to be doing:  according to the article, they must not do any other classwork.

I am shocked.  Very shocked.  I am still embroiled in a civil rights fight with a federal government department and now I must look at particpating in a fight against a state government department.  I have four children about to enter the Victorian education system.  As a parent this is not what I want for my children.  Clearly I am not the only one, given the  Humanist Society website states:

12:30 – We are also aware that the Humanist Society of Victoria’s website has been so inundated with people wanting to access it that it has crashed. This speaks volumes on just how many people care and want to learn more. Future information will come from FIRIS so be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.


In the spirit of “if you want to change something, suggest an alternative”, resulting from a discussion with someone else, my suggestion would be introduce Cultural Intelligence classes and within that framework touch on all religions to provide awareness, rather than indoctrinate in one.  We need Cultural Intelligence training, so why not start early?


Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Education – is it a public good?

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Violent protests … a flare is thrown at police Photo: AP

There are many reports everywhere of the protests in London by people against higher fees for education.  I remember when I started my degree here in Audstralia, tertiary education was still free.  Midway through my degree fees and the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) were brought in.  It is now HECS-HELP.

I remember as a child growing up in New Zealand, students were bonded for a given number of years after completing their degree.   For those unfamiliar with the concept, an example would be a medical student required to work, to use the education, locally for a given number of years, for the country which provided the education for that individual to become a doctor.  Many countries still have bonding.   This is actually my preferred solution to the question of  how much should students themselves contribute to their education. 

I remember attending my economics classes and discussing public goods: what was a public good, what wasn’t.

I am a firm believer that education is something we all benefit from, whether we receive it directly or not.  There is, of course, no question that the individual receiving the education also benefits personally.  There is, therefore, a valid argument that some form of contribution from the individual is appropriate.  Bonding serves that purpose yet still enables those from all socio-economic demographics to further their education.

You are ill, you need a doctor.  Whether you went to university or not, you need medical care.  You need dental care.  The car accident you had last week: you need legal representation.  You go to have a prescription filled, you expect the pharmacist to be adequately qualified. 

Yes, I agree, a degree in macrame perhaps is not so useful to the population at large and some of the “subjects” we read are being offered in American universities simply stuns me.  Perhaps I am merely old-fashioned.  So setting such things aside, for they detract from the central debate, is education a public good?

Here in Australia many students now leave university with a debt to the government.  Thankfully, it is interest free.  Repayments start at an indexed threshold.  Discounts are available for paying extra.

The above newspaper report indicates the UK are proposing quite a hike: The basic level of fees will now climb to £6000 ($9680), with an upper limit of £9000. The current cap is £3290.

Still not as expensive as the USA, but not an inconsiderable cost to a family trying to educate their children.

Every single one of us benefits from education.  Education is something we all need to be provided, whether we, individually, are the recipients or not.

Education must not become something that is only available to the rich.  If it does, such nations will become, over the years, nations no different to those third world countries where education is a luxury, not a right.   Fields of expertise, including science, will stagnate, constrained by lack of fresh ideas, fresh approaches, fresh blood.  All of us will suffer.

Eduction is not a luxury, it is a right.  It is a public good.  It should be available to all those, rich or poor, who have the intellectual ability and the desire to become a doctor, dentist, lawyer, geologist, pharmacist: the list goes on.  We all, every one of us, receive the benefits of education therefore we all should contribute. 

Education must not become available only to the rich.  Our societies will be the worse if such becomes the norm:  look at those countries where it IS the norm to see our possible future.

Edit December 12: Related to this I have been participating in two different discussions about education being compulsory in relation to those students who do not want to be at school at all.  That is a question for another day.  This entry relates only to the question of access to education.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 11, 2010 at 9:37 am