Cut out the re­li­gious mumbo jumbo!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - Source: Bar­ba­dos To­day

That’s the call of Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies (UWI) Po­lit­i­cal Sci­en­tist Dr Ten­nyson Joseph who says it’s time to end to re­li­gious teach­ings and in­tro­duce a fully sec­u­lar cur­ricu­lum in Bar­ba­dos’ schools.

He ar­tic­u­lated the po­si­tion dur­ing a ses­sion of the Bar­ba­dos Se­nior Par­lia­ment held at UWI’s Cave Hill Cam­pus yes­ter­day. In mak­ing his con­tri­bu­tion to the topic ‘Should Home School­ing Be Con­tin­ued in Bar­ba­dos?’ Joseph ex­pressed the view that a uni­ver­sally ac­cepted sec­u­lar cur­ricu­lum would erad­i­cate any con­flicts which may ex­ist for non-Chris­tian mem­bers of this is­land’s in­creas­ingly di­verse so­ci­ety.

The is­sue of home school­ing was thrown into the na­tional spot­light af­ter a Rasta­far­ian cou­ple was brought be­fore the court for re­fus­ing to send their chil­dren to school. They were found guilty of breach­ing Sec­tion 41 of the Ed­u­ca­tion Act on the grounds that there was no record of the chil­dren at­tend­ing for­mal classes. Their chil­dren – who are both un­der age ten – have been placed in the cus­tody of their pa­ter­nal grand­mother, pend­ing the court’s sen­tenc­ing de­ci­sion on Oc­to­ber 27.

How­ever, in sup­port of the Rasta­far­ian cou­ple’s con­tention that their son and daugh­ter were be­ing home­schooled, Joseph ar­gued that any at­tempt to cur­tail par­ents’ choice to home school their child ought to be con­tin­gent on the pro­vi­sion of a uni­ver­sally ac­cept­able ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem by the State.

“The eas­i­est way to make it [the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem] be­come what you want it to be­come is to have some­thing called a sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum. This is univer­sal,” Joseph said, ex­plain­ing that “if you say one plus one equals two, whether you are Rasta­fari, whether you are Mus­lim or whether you are a Jew, you can teach my chil­dren one plus one equals two.

“But do not tell them about vir­gin births, which is a bi­o­log­i­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity,” Joseph said, in an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to the Bib­li­cal ac­count of Je­sus be­ing born to a vir­gin.

He ar­gued that the rest of the world had moved away from re­li­gious-based ed­u­ca­tion, while telling the au­thor­i­ties: “Don’t come with your pack­aged doc­trines and say that is part of the cur­ricu­lum and that a child can­not learn the sec­u­lar things with­out it be­ing pack­aged in re­li­gious cloth­ing.”

While ad­vo­cat­ing home­school­ing as a vi­able al­ter­na­tive for those with di­verg­ing be­liefs, Joseph warned that the cur­rent re­li­gious-based sys­tem was fail­ing al­ready disen­fran­chised classes of so­ci­ety.

“The fail­ures of the State are in fact lead­ing to the dis­ad­van­tag­ing of our women be­cause they are ones car­ry­ing the bur­den of ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren at home. It is lead­ing to the dis­ad­van­tag­ing of the poor fam­i­lies be­cause they have to find al­ter­na­tives to ed­u­cate their chil­dren be­cause the State will [not] do for us what we ex­pect it to do for us in a con­text of in­de­pen­dence and sovereignty . . .

“In ad­di­tion to pro­tect­ing our right to home­school our chil­dren, we need to see that the strug­gle goes be­yond that. We need to in­sist that the demo­cratic State that rep­re­sents us in the 50th year of our in­de­pen­dence, the State to which we pay taxes we don’t have, be­gins to trans­form them­selves into what we want them to be­come and they could start with ed­u­ca­tion [re­form] by sep­a­rat­ing re­li­gious mumbo jumbo from se­ri­ous sec­u­lar no­tions. If we do that, then we won’t have the prob­lem that we do be­fore us,” in­sisted Joseph.

UWI Po­lit­i­cal Sci­en­tist Dr Ten­nyson Joseph says it’s time to stop teach­ing re­li­gion in Bar­ba­dos’ schools. Is this an ar­gu­ment that can be used here in Saint Lu­cia?

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