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Former Irish prime minister defends religious instruction

Catholic World News - April 08, 2011

Ireland’s former prime minister, John Bruton, has defended the role of religious education in the country’s schools, questioning the plan of current education minister Ruairi Quinn to cut down on religious instruction.

Bruton acknowledged that recent test scores had shown a troublesome decline in academic performance by Irish students, but dismissed the suggestion that religious instruction is to blame. The classroom time spent on religious education has not increased, he observed, since the years when Irish students performed better on standardized tests. “So why single out the 30 minutes per day spent on religious formation, when there are so many other ways to find time to improve out scores in reading and mathematics?”

Bruton went on to say that schools should prepare students “not just for working life but for life as a whole.” Religious education plays a role in that process, he said.

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