Secular, singular and self-expression? Religious freedom in australian and New Zealand education

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Journal Article
Irish Educational Studies, 2009, 28 (3), pp. 279 - 296
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Children today live in a multicultural society. Its ethnic, religious and cultural diversity is reflected in school communities. In Australia, education is provided largely within the secular public systems of each state and territory. In addition, there is a significant denominational, primarily Catholic, school sector. In New Zealand, the state system is similarly secular but with much fewer private denominational providers. An important mission of all educators is to assist and encourage young people to achieve their full potential to contribute to a society characterized by tolerance and understanding. Parents of different races, cultures and religions want their children to be educated in accordance with their convictions and religious beliefs. In addition, the partakers of education, the young people of today, are generally more confident and comfortable in expressing their beliefs, either through words or appearance. The challenge is for all involved in education, from government policy makers to educators, to cater for all needs within the education system. This article considers the exercise of individual rights and freedoms within the context of religion in education. It focuses on the issues relating to incorporating and promoting diversity and individual freedoms within the secular education systems of Australia and New Zealand. © 2009 Educational Studies Association of Ireland.
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