No investigation into schools flouting religion rules

Some Waikato schools were found to have breached the Education Act (file photo).

Some Waikato schools were found to have breached the Education Act (file photo).

Some Waikato schools teaching religion are flouting the rules and getting away with it.

Last month, Stuff asked more than 200 state schools whether they offered Bible studies.

One Waikato school offered 30 hours per year and another had Bible studies during school hours.

Both broke the law, but no charges will be laid.

Waikato schools flout religion rules 
Call for all major religions to be taught in schools 
Religion in schools 'not harmful'

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Katrina Casey said the ministry received a complaint based on the Stuff story in August.

"The complainant was not able to provide any information other than what was stated in the article and therefore did not identify any specific schools that she believed were in breach of the Education Act 1964," Casey said.

Casey said the ministry will instead send a letter to all boards of trustees in the Waikato, reminding them of the rules.

A copy of the letter that will be sent to school boards could not be immediately provided. Stuff was told that a bulletin notice will be available online from September 25.

"When we receive specific complaints, we always follow it up with the school," Casey said.

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Schools are legally obliged to be secular, but under the Education Act, they are allowed to close for religious instruction, as long as children can opt out.

Religion can be taught for one hour a week up to 20 hours per year, but never while the school is open.

Warren Salisbury, regional adviser for Christian Religious Education (CRE), formerly known as Bible in Schools, said in August that volunteers were not there to evangelise.

"We are there to educate about what Christians believe, Christian values and that kind of thing."

CRE, a main provider, has about 470 volunteers in the Waikato teaching in 83 schools - down from the 130 schools they taught in five years ago.

Secular Education Network co-leader Tanya Jacob says schools running illegal religious instruction know the rules and don't care.

"The Ministry of Education has shown schools that they can get away with it with less than a slap on the wrist."


 - Stuff


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