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Personal Blog of Mark Hoskins – Anarchist Writer and Community Organiser

Warped Visions: Religion in the Irish Education System

Warped Visions: Religion in the Irish Education System

The following is an article I wrote for issue 9 of the Irish Anarchist Review.


It’s no secret that the Catholic church is anti-choice. We’re used to seeing the organisation in this light through the prism of the fight for abortion rights. Catholicism has had a big part to play in the regressive policies of the Irish state that restrict bodily autonomy for anyone with a womb. However, the church also restricts choice in other areas, health care for example, with the patronage of hospitals, and of course, education.
Those who wish to protect their children from the type of psychological abuse that comes from being indoctrinated in the Catholic “concept of the world”, have their choices severely restricted, particularly at primary level. According to a 2011 report by the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), out of a total of 3,169 primary schools in the state, the Catholic church were patrons of 2,841, that is, 89.65%. Other religious bodies accounted for 197 schools, 174 of which were Church of Ireland. In contrast, there were only 131 schools run by secular bodies, 58 of which were Educate Together, with only 9 under the patronage of the Minister for Education and Skills. In total, religious faith based schools account for 96% of primary schools in the state. While non-denominational bodies make up the bulk of patrons of the 116 new primary schools opened since 1997, Catholic Church patronage still accounts for a quarter of these.
The restrictions on the type of education a child can avail of that results from religious patronage is one thing, but it also means that access to education is restricted. With effective control of almost 90% of primary schools, the Catholic church is the gatekeeper of the education system. This means that it can exercise, as Kitty Holland put it in a recent article for the Irish Times, “a religiously based exclusion at children as young as four.”iv Both the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, prioritise children of their own faith on waiting lists, meaning that children with no religion who have been signed up for enrollment from birth, by the age of four are still way down on the waiting list, with no prospect of a place.”

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2014 by in Anarchism, Education, Religion, The State and tagged , , , .
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