The Anglican Bishop of Auckland, the Rt Rev Ross Bay, has come out in support of religious education programmes being offered in state schools.
He says there’s no question that these programmes help schools deliver on their responsibility – as spelt out in the New Zealand Curriculum – to teach values to students.
Bishop Ross was commenting on a call by the Secular Education Network to remove all religion from state schools.
“The NZ Curriculum places a high bar,” he says, “on the expectation that students will develop a sense of values through their learning experience.
“There is a specific expectation that students will come to understand the values on which our cultural traditions and institutions are based, and understand the values of other groups and cultures”.
Christianity has a great deal to offer to this process, says Bishop Ross.
He’s convinced that students benefit from understanding the part which Christian faith has played in the development of our heritage.
And he says students also benefit from understanding how significant the Christian faith still is for many New Zealanders.
“Gaining an understanding of all these things contributes to the goal of students learning about their own values, and the values of others,” says Bishop Ross.
He respects those who don’t want their children to take part in such programmes.
But he says boards of trustees decide whether the programmes being offered are appropriate for their schools, in response to the wishes of the whole parent community.
Bishop Ross says any suspicion that the programmes offered may be indoctrination or proselytising is simply wrong.
“The programmes,” he says, “have been very carefully developed with regard to the values aspect of the Curriculum, and as a contribution from the Christian faith to teaching of those values.”
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