Thu, 19 Jun 2003

Give our children hope, not religion

How on earth in this modern day and age can we possibly allow religion to dominate an education law?

An emotive subject that has no place whatsoever in the minds of young children in a world that is ever demanding of talent and innovation. Will we ever learn from our history, the chapters of horrors that record the turmoil, the conflicts and the barbarism that goes with centuries of religious fervor and hatred? Even today we witness the atrocities associated with religious extremism and still do not learn that the teaching of this subject should be left to a later stage of a child's life when he or she is more able to understand its true meaning. One despairs at the thinking of pious clerics and religious bigots who insist that the very young must be indoctrinated into the faith no matter the religion, as if we were still back in the dark days when we would burn the non-believers as witches or pagans.

Religious education (and not instruction) is meant to explain the ideologies behind all religions so that young people are aware of the existence, such that later in life they can make a decision themselves as to which one, if any, they want to follow.

We do that with all other subjects that are taught in schools such that students can follow their natural abilities in a manner that offers them freedom of choice according to their progress. The "Give me the child for the first seven years and I'll give you the man" syndrome, is not only out of date, but is also positively dangerous, as it only goes to serve the ongoing disasters of our well-documented historical failures. One accepts that democracy is far from ideal in this world, but its failures are mostly due to the exploitation of mankind, so why not turn over a new leaf and give the children of Indonesia some real hope in their future by coming up with an education law that offers flexibility, innovation and a vision for advancement.

DAVID WALLIS, Redditch, England