Religious studies has long been a curricular subject across the different types of schools in Malta, be it church, private or state. Whether religion should still be taught in schools is often the subject of debate, and you will find opposing views on the different sides of the table. In this article we discuss the implications of the teaching of religion in schools.
Morals and Values
Whether you are a believer of the happenings recounted in the Bible, the scope of religious studies is to highlight the difference between good and evil. It helps us to become better citizens, by enlightening us as to what are morally good decisions. Such knowledge arms us in times where we need to make decisions between what is right and wrong, which may be the easiest route at times. It is necessary in building solid foundations for a better future society, where its citizens are familiar with what is good and can then teach their own children. This argument has never been stronger especially when considering the negative scenarios in today’s world with wars, poverty and greed.
People who do not wish to study Religion can easily opt to do so in state schools and go for Ethics. In church schools, this is not the case because if you attend such a school you are expected to subscribe to such beliefs. If we were to remove Religion as a school subject, those who wish to study it are deprived of doing so.
Most argue about the complete segregation of religion from the state. If children are not exposed to religious teachings in their formative years, they are less likely to appreciate and tolerate religious opinions and beliefs. This would also make them relatively uninformed of the different religions and beliefs. By studying, children can enjoy a more holistic education, realising that science and religion can in fact, co-exist.
Although Religion as a subject does have its advantages, there are some cons which need to be addressed. One of the problems may be bullying and discrimination towards children who do not subscribe to popular belief. In a school where the teaching of Religion is given priority, atheists and other believers of different religions may be marginalised and treated as different by the other students. This may also be used as an initiation for verbal bullying. Also, there is an argument in favour of those who state that the teaching of one particular religion, as opposed to another, may bring forward moral dilemmas. Should people of a different religion get the opportunity to study their own within Maltese schools?
In a society where people are becoming less acquainted with the teachings of the church, it is now more than ever that we need to focus on religious tolerance and moral values.