No more faith schools please.

The rights of the child. Really?

Peace wall, separating peace schools.
West BelfastPeace wall, separating peace schools. West Belfast There should be no more faith schools, there should be a separation between church and school. Just under 30% of our schools are faith schools, at present these are mostly Christian and Catholic. In Northern Ireland, Angela Smith, the NI Office education minister turned down Rowellane Integrated College for funding. She allegedly did so in order to placate politicians opposed to integration. The school is being built using private funding and is, at present, using mobile classrooms. Rowellane is massively oversubscribed as are Northern Ireland's other 58 integrated schools. The IEF Integrated Education Fund was established in 1992 and aims to fund more integrated schools.

Church schools can choose their intake and tend to be beacons of good behaviour and educational high standards. They tend to take more middle class and affluent children whose parents, even if they lie about religious affiliation, are committed and aware. The government is trying to stop selection by interview but other methods of selection are available. Interestingly, the London Oratory was given special dispensation to continue interviewing by Ruth 'Opus Dei' Kelly. Perhaps so that baby Leo can be assured of a sound education?

EU childrens rightsEU childrens rights School twinning is being given large amounts of money. Not so that pupils can visit other countries, just so they can go down the road and visit children of a different race and/or religion. This in twenty first century Britain! In Northern Ireland children lead totally parallel lives and this is happening in the rest of Britain. "You start with separate schools, then separate health centres and you end up with separate supermarkets," said MP Andrew Bennett. Two thirds of the population oppose faith schools. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown states that :" women of Asian heritage have been amongst those opposing the expansion of religious schools." Interestingly a 2005 Islamic Human Rights Commission survey found that just over 50% of Muslim males did not want Islamic schooling for their children
Article 13, Convention on the rights of the Child UN 1989 states that:"The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds."

In the Madani High school in Leicester, the Islamic lecturer and headmaster Mohammed Mukadam said that he would accept 10% non-Muslim pupils . As a result state funding was given. He then discovered that the school was, surprise, surprise, oversubscribed by Muslim pupils, hence his cultural generosity was never to be tested. So, it will be a brave girl, regardless of her background, who insists on her human right not to wear a headscarf, which is part of the school uniform. Recent government guidelines state that - 'If a school feels comfortable that religious dress does not present a barrier to learning, their uniform will reflect that.' So, there is no outright ban on the veil; sod the girls who will have to wear one! Even the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia recommends non-sectarian education!

Mr Mokadam is also charity correspondent for the Leicester Islamic Academy, a Sunni muslim religious school where girls and boys are educated at different times of the day. Ashraf Makadam , a trustee of the charity , chaired a recent Extremism and Islamophobia Youth Forum. No political issues here then.

Madani High SchoolMadani High School"Faith schools exist to promote particular faiths, not enlightenment values". Lord Taverne 2006. House of Lords.

The government has refused to countenance its first trust school , Monkseaton High School in Tyneside, becoming a secular school. How's that for human rights. This in a country where less than 10% attend church once a month. Dr.Paul Kelly, Monkseaton's Headmaster, states that: " we have been left with a nineteenth century architecture of education in a twenty first century environment." He simply wished to formally end the requirement for a daily act of worship, which informally prevails. " I feel that children have a right to not having a particular point of view. They should not be promoted to a political party, nor should they to a religion." There were over nine million people with no religion in the 2001 census , yet they cannot have even one school. There are 36 Jewish schools and only about a quarter of a million Jews. Logically the 400,000 who stated in the last census that that their religion was 'Jedi' could put in for about 40 and the intention of the Flat Earth Society at the time of writing is not known. The future of science teaching could be interesting.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says:" In Britain, a confounded view of what a multi-ethnic society must do has led to encouraging the development of state financed Muslim schools, Sikh schools, etc, to supplement pre-existing state supported Christian schools. Under this system, young children are placed in the domain of singular affiliations well before they have the ability to reason about different systems of identification that may compete for their attention." He adds :"Christian schools have evolved and often provide a much more tolerant atmosphere than a purely religious school would... the new generation of Muslim and Sikh schools are not going to be like that".

Darra Singh has also expressed reservations about faith schools but the final report for the Commission on Integration and Cohesion,of which he was chairman, says, amongst a lot of waffle about diversity training and Holy Cross riotsHoly Cross riotsshared values and twinning, that, The challenge for faith schools is to combine their distinctive teaching with fostering a sense of belonging to a wider community. Some would prefer that schools become entirely secular in ethos . That's it! That's what you've paid your money for. D+ I would say, and that's being generous. We should give no further funding to faith schools. It would be almost impossible to abolish the third of the state's schools that are faith based. Yet why should we encourage more? And we should most certainly encourage integrated or secular schools in Ulster. The government's rationale for having minority faith based schools is, evidently, that pupils are already in segregated schools because of their catchment populations and there would be more control and supervision if minority faith schools came under state control. Oh yeah. Like they control and supervise our state schools? Yet there is a great deal of difference between this and a strictly religious school which may well insist on strict segregation, and a fundamentalist religious ethos.

Everyone now works towards the tick-chart and people of all races and religions are very well versed in this system. Christian and Catholic schools will feel empowered to waive their voluntary agreement in England and Wales to take up to 25% admissions of different faiths, and evangelical modesty retainedmodesty retainedschools may feel emboldened to encourage talking in voices and creationism. There could be creeping fundamentalism in all types of faith schools. Why not secular schools when only a small minority attend church or , why not homosexual/lesbian orientated schools? Logically there should be no reason why not. If, in some cases, we're brainwashing small children into a particular faith we shouldn't wonder that the ghettoisation of Britain will develop apace . For example a Muslim boy can already attend a charity commission supported madrassa, attend an all boys Muslim school, join the police and the Muslim police association and send his wife to hospital in a blue burka! And don't worry, the other religions are already girding their loins.