Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
chanquete
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:46 am

Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by chanquete » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:11 am

Can somebody explain to me how can a public school discriminate children in their enrolment policy based on their religion?

Enrolment policies for the two closest public schools:
Catholic school : (1) Baptised catholics in the parish (2) Other children in the parish (3) Other children
Protestant school : (1) Protestant children in the parish (2) Catholic children in the parish (3) Other children in the parish (4) Other children

There are no Educate Together schools in the area.

Why can't my son attend the public school closest to us, the one his friends are attending, just because he is not baptised!? Is he now a second-class (third, in some cases) citizen?

I mean we are not talking about an "oddity" or "curiosity" here - we are talking about children being discriminated in the public education system based on the religion of their parents.

How can this be legal?! Surely if not the Constitution, it must be breaking multiple European laws and Human Rights charters?

I brought this up in conversation with some people and they pointed out that there have been moves in the last year to slowly change school patronage based on parent demands.

Surely that is not the right answer?! It will take decades, if it happens at all. And even if it did, it will segregate children on religious grounds.

The answer is surely to ensure no public school can discriminate based on religion. I don't understand why this battle is not being fought. How can somebody defend the current situation as it is - legally or morally?

As an adult I have endured some, mostly mild, discrimination for being an Atheist. I have always shrug it off. But in situation like this, where it direcly affects children, whether mine or not, I really don't think I can just let it pass.

So - after all this venting - can somebody let me know about the legality of these discriminating enrolment policies from a domestic, european and international point of view? I'm sure somebody must have raised this issues before?

I had the chance to bring this topic up with a local labour TD but he seemed just focused on the slow-moving process of changing patronage of current schools. Is there no political will either to do the right thing?

What can be done? What can I do?

Thanks,
Chanquete



ps: by the way, I've been given reassurances that my son, due to his age, will probably manage to get in the local school despite him being in the "B" list - but my anger at the situation remains. We have a younger son, and my wife now wants to baptise him and his brother to avoid further problems in the future. I can't blame her. But what about other children? What about Muslim, Jewish, Hindu families - they can't just baptise their children to workaround the problem. This is all so so wrong!
Bik
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Bik » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:52 pm

Your anger and frustration and clear from your post and justifiably so.
There are several threads related to this topic on this site but perhaps your first port of call should be http://www.teachdontpreach.ie

There are several other members here who have been in your position and they'd be in a better position to advise than I would.
"Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion." Superintendent Chalmers
Tulip1
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Tulip1 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:07 pm

This is sadly possible due to the fact that the Irish State sees the religious schools as private schools although they are state funded.

Jane (our education officer) would probably be able to explain more to you.

Martijn
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
Marks
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Marks » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:49 pm

"How can this be legal?! Surely if not the Constitution, it must be breaking multiple European laws and Human Rights charters?"

Unfortunately it is legal as religious discrimination is simply part of Irish life. Religious bodies (schools) are exempted from equality laws. Schools are also exempted from the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2004.

Under the Irish Constitution the state 'provides for' education and consequently schools are publicly funded but essentially private.
The discrimination does not stop just because your child gets into the local school but continues as religion is integrated into the curriculum and it is impossible for your children to opt out.

Atheist Ireland is fighting this discrimination.We have recently made a complaint to the EU and make Submissions to the UN and Council of Europe. For example the Report from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance is due out later this month and we met the Commission and made a Submission.

We also made a Submission to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism which you will find here:-
http://www.teachdontpreach.ie/2011/12/a ... pluralism/

This hopefully will help you understand the issues involved. This discrimination is a breach of human rights law and the UN and Council of Europe are putting pressure on the Irish State. Opening up a few more schools will not change the fact that there are still parents that will have no choice but to send their child to the only local school which discriminates and breaches their human rights.

It is also worth noting that the UN Human Rights Committee has stated that the religious integrated curriculum in denominational schools breaches the human rights of secular parents. They said that it was discrimination, breaches the right to freedom of conscience, the rights of the child and the right to equality before the law.
chanquete
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by chanquete » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:54 pm

Thank you all for the links. Bik, you are right, I am angry and frustrated. I can see I'm not the only one.

I understand now, from the links posted (thanks), that there has been campaigning and work on the legal side to change the situation but I guess it was ignored.

I first of all want to commend your work - the response letter linked above is really well articulated (had it been me writing it, it would be full of exclamation marks and rethorical questions, like my initial post! :) ).

I am reading through the final report - so far it is quite disappointing in its tone. Nowhere is the word "discrimination" to be found. I'll come back to thread once I've read it fully.

Has there been any case of an individual / organization legally challenging the current situation? I mean not in terms of letters, recommendations and reports, but in terms of bringing the situation to court.

Thanks,
Chanquete
Tulip1
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Tulip1 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:03 pm

chanquete wrote:Thank you all for the links. Bik, you are right, I am angry and frustrated. I can see I'm not the only one.

I understand now, from the links posted (thanks), that there has been campaigning and work on the legal side to change the situation but I guess it was ignored.

I first of all want to commend your work - the response letter linked above is really well articulated (had it been me writing it, it would be full of exclamation marks and rethorical questions, like my initial post! :) ).

I am reading through the final report - so far it is quite disappointing in its tone. Nowhere is the word "discrimination" to be found. I'll come back to thread once I've read it fully.

Has there been any case of an individual / organization legally challenging the current situation? I mean not in terms of letters, recommendations and reports, but in terms of bringing the situation to court.

Thanks,
Chanquete

The problem is that the schools are viewed as private schools and can therefore do what they want. A court case can't solve that.

That is a huge problem. In my personal opinion change will only come through Europe and UN. I hope I am wrong.
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
dscanlon
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by dscanlon » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:17 am

This is timely: my wife and I received a note today from the local RC school that our eldest son would not be offered a place come September, as he neither has siblings attending, nor is he Catholic.

The RC school has a large intake (c. 160), and we were kind of looking at it as our "fallback" school: not delighted that he'd be going there, but assuming that he would get a place due to its' size. We still haven't heard from our first choice school (local CoI), but as we're also not CoI, I'm not hopeful.

We have some other options: there's a large Educate Together about 5km away, but we don't have his name down, so we'll have to see. In any case, we'd much prefer to have him attend school in our village, where he'll be able to develop closer friendships, etc.

So much for the secular, modern state. I've never felt so marginalised and disillusioned.
Tulip1
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Tulip1 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:09 pm

That is really terrible but maybe you saved yourself the trouble my son went through when I sent him to the local RC school

I would really bring this to the attention of the IHRC, they only register but it is important that they hear of this.
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
Marks
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by Marks » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:04 am

Would you consider contacting the Equality Authority as well. It is also important that the Equality Authority are aware of this as well . Their contact details are Locall 1890 245 545 or email info@equality.ie

Let them have a copy of the refusal from the school.
dscanlon
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Re: Enrolment Policies - Discrimination

Post by dscanlon » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:31 pm

@Tulip1 and @Marks - many thanks for your suggestions.

It turns out our situation has worsened: we contacted the local (5k away!) ET school and were told that there was a waiting list of 70 for this September's intake. Still have yet to hear from another school in the village, but there's 79 applicants for 30 places, and it's CoI and we're clearly not - so not hopeful.

I'm a little reluctant to bring anything to either the IHRC or the Equality Authority until we've appealed the RC's school decision to the Dept of Education. Very interested to hear if anyone has received any satisfaction from the appeal process?
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