We don’t need no religious education

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MORE than 40 per cent of the 795,000 students in NSW's public schools do not list any religion on their enrolment form, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Of those who attend, Christianity is the main religion listed (about 45 per cent), especially on Sydney's north shore, while some schools in Sydney's west have up to 90 per cent of students who identify with Islam.

At Banksia Road Public School, 91 per cent of students identified with Islam, while at Bellevue Hill Public, 71 per cent students listed Judaism, and at Cabramatta High, 35 per cent nominated Buddhism.

The least religious schools in Sydney include Australia Street Infants in Newtown (90 per cent nominated no religion), Yeo Park Infants in Ashfield (87 per cent) and Girraween Public School (79 per cent).

Concern has been raised by parents and teachers over “dead time” many students face who don’t attend SRE and who aren’t allowed to participate in any educational activities while SRE classes are in progress.

In more than 50 per cent of schools, most students do not nominate a religion, and ethics classes across the state, which were introduced in 2011, fail to attract the necessary number of voluntary teachers to meet the demand of students.

However, commenting after the release of the review into SRE and ethics, the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools said the review affirmed the "important place" of scripture and ethics in public education.

"In the interests of securing the future of SRE we will be working collaboratively with authorised providers of all faiths to make SRE a strength of public education in NSW in a multi-cultural and multi faith environment," the group said on the SMH website.

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Photo image: iStock

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