Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is It Time To Commission An Opinion Poll On Faith Schools?

There have been some very interesting discussions on Lib Dem Voice about how our party should interact with religious organisations and what we think about faith schools in particular.

I noticed one comment there (no 53) that official party policy is against faith schools - which is something that isn't often mentioned.

This issue isn't going to go away, especially if there is a likelihood of more faith schools being established. If more Islamic schools are going to be established, are they going to be based on priciples like this of the International Board of Research and Resources - "a brainchild of a group of Muslims stimulated into action by Brother Yusuf Islam.":
The primary sources of Islamic Education are universally recognised as follows:
1. The Qur’an
2. The Sunnah / Hadeeth
The secondary source of Islamic Education includes Ijtihad which is the interpretation and analytical deduction of scholars based on the primary sources of Knowledge, the Qur’an and Sunnah. This category of knowledge incorporates Ijma’ (consensus of the scholars); Qiyas (analogy); Istihsan (juristic preference); Istihslah (public interest); ‘Urf (common customs); the sayings of the Sahaaba and History.

I wouldn't like to see this as the basis for a British child's public education in maths, english, geography history, science etc. Neither do I want to see American-style battles over the teaching of evolution or even skirmishes with advocates of 'creationist physics'

Should we move out of the 'comfort zone' on this? Should it be in our manifesto for the next election to bring an end to faith schools? Or to put a freeze on the creation of new ones? I don't know. But I would really like to see the party commission a pollster to ask the public a question like this:

What policy would you like to see the government take on state-funded state schools?

1) Create ,if requested, more new state-funded 'faith' schools for the children of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh parents;
2)keep the existing ones open but not open any new ones except in exceptional circumstances;
3)turn all the existing faith schools into 'normal' state schools?

with the follow-up question:

If the Liberal Democrats adopted the policy you prefer, would you be more likely to vote for them?


Kim Ayres said...

If you think your faith is something that infuses everything you do, every action, every thought, every opinion, then a faith school is an obvious thing for your child to stop them becoming corrupted by alternative viewpoints.

If you think that faith is something which is a sort of each to their own, a bit like which football team you support, then the idea of a faith school is horrific. It would be like having a Manchester United school where everyone was indoctrinated into the idea that MU was superior to everyone else and you know nothing but bigotry and hatred would be fostered for non-MU supporters.

As an athiest, I find the idea of faith schools abhorrent, but I understand why those who believe would want them.

However, I do think the real way forward is to abolish them. Have education to train people in the use of reason, and faith is something to be pursued outwith school.

As for voting Lib Dem, I probably would if they were 1st or 2nd in this area. Instead I vote tactically.

Alison Mayor said...

Interesting Kim.
My faith infuses everything that I think and do but I wouldn't dream of sending my kids to a faith school.

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