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Religious Education in Schools

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (14:56): My question is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Education. With regard to organisations that provide religious and cultural activities to schools, can the minister advise: 1. What oversight the education department has on these programs to ensure they are appropriate for children and are age appropriate? 2. Is the content of these programs audited? 3. Are there any standards or departmental policies on the content of these programs to ensure they are not being used to recruit new followers and that the focus is on comparative religious education?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:57): I am happy to take that question on notice and bring back a reply.

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19 March 2019

Response

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): The Minister for Education has provided the following advice:

The decision to engage in religious and cultural activities is a local management decision which may be informed by consultation with the school community. School leaders are responsible for reviewing the content of religious and cultural activities to determine what is appropriate for their school community, including age appropriateness. There is no centralised audit of these activities by the department.

It is important not to confuse religious and cultural activities with religious education. Religious and cultural activities can include activities to celebrate Diwali, Ramadan, Lunar New Year, Christmas, Easter, Holi, Mid-Autumn Festival and Hanukkah.

The purpose of these activities is not to bring about commitment to any set of beliefs or religion but to support students to develop inclusiveness, respect and empathy with the beliefs of others and the role and significance of religion in our society and in a global context. The activities may include watching the performance of a play, creating artwork, singing songs and playing games.

Religious education is represented in the curriculum as an opportunity to learn about the perspectives, beliefs and values of people, past and present, rather than the study and teachings of a particular faith. The Education and Children's Services Bill 2018 specifically states that religious and cultural activities do not form part of the curriculum.

The Department for Education's policy requires teachers to use the Australian Curriculum and the South Australian Certificate of Education subject outlines to design and deliver the curriculum.

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