From ABC News online and the Age
The State Government has finally acted to remove religious instruction from state school classrooms, predictably the Victorian Opposition is complaining.
As of next year, state school students will not be able to study specialist religious instruction (SRI) during class time and will instead have do the study before or after school or during lunchtime.
The Opposition claims its a broken promise.
We want every second, every minute of curriculum time being devoted to teaching and learning said James Merlino, Education Minister
Only about 20 per cent of students participate in religious education on an opt-in basis.
Education Minister James Merlino said under the current rules, the remaining 80 per cent of students were not allowed to undertake any curriculum work during that 30-minute period.
"In the education state, that's just not the right thing to do," Mr Merlino said.
Mr Merlino said he understood that some parents would be angry about the decision, but it was the "right thing to do"."Curriculum time is precious for our kids," he said.
"We want every second, every minute of curriculum time being devoted to teaching and learning provided by qualified teachers."
The way religion is taught in Victorian primary schools was overhauled after a report found that Education Department guidelines were being breached by the key provider of SIR, Access Ministries.
Victoria also banned religious organisations from running prayer groups, handing out Bibles and delivering other unauthorised information sessions in state schools during school hours.
DET press release:
The Victorian Government today announced changes to two areas of the school curriculum in 2016. These include a focus on building healthy and respectful relationships and learning about global cultures, ethics and traditions.
Content included in the curriculum will help students to cultivate the social skills necessary for healthy and respectful relationships, and to positively contribute to the community. The curriculum content will focus on exploring stereotypes, and challenging attitudes and behaviour such as prejudice, violence, discrimination and harassment.
The Victorian Government recognises the important place of religion and ethics in our society, so from next year students will be taught about global cultures, ethics and traditions to build greater understanding of world views, tolerance and respect.
As a part of this, from the start of term 1 2016, Special Religious Instruction (SRI) will be moved to lunchtimes or before or after school, freeing up 30 minutes of valuable class time per week for hundreds of schools.
These changes will also provide principals with more capacity to determine the approaches that work best for their school communities.