Over the last few months and especially since the last post I made I’ve received many questions regarding whether or not churches may operate in a public school system or if we do so “on the sly”.
I was very happy to hear Barbara Creecy, Gauteng Education MEC, addressing questions to this point yesterday on the radio and decided to go and find the National Policy on Religion and Education and make it available to any interested parties who may read this blog.
A couple of points to highlight which were applicable to me:
- 61. School Governing Bodies are required to determine the nature and content of religious observances for teachers and pupils, such that coherence and alignment with this policy and applicable legislation is ensured. It may also determine that a policy of no religious observances be followed. Where religious observances are held, these may be at any time determined by the school, and may be part of a school assembly. However an assembly is not necessarily to be seen as the only occasion for religious observance, which may take place at other times of the day, and in other ways, including specific dress requirements or dietary injunctions. Where a religious observance is organised, as an official part of the school day, it must accommodate and reflect the multi-religious nature of the country in an appropriate manner.
- 63. A school assembly has the potential for affirming and celebrating unity in diversity, and should be used for this purpose. Public schools may not violate the religious freedom of pupils and teachers by imposing religious uniformity on a religiously diverse school population in school assemblies. Where a religious observance is included in a school assembly, pupils may be excused on grounds of conscience from attending a religious observance component, and equitable arrangements must be made for these pupils.
You may view the whole document on the government website here: http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70211
I’ve begun to put together an approach which is mutually beneficial to a local church and a public school here: http://markpenrith.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/nkosi-sikelel-iafrika-pastor-to-pupils/