Sunday, February 26, 2006

Faith schools ‘insane’, says Catholic writer

From the Sunday Herald:
"Award-winning Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, whose credits include Carla’s Song and My Name Is Joe, has called separate faith schools 'insane'.

Laverty, himself a Catholic, delivered his stinging criticism last week in a message to the audience of a special screening of his controversial 2004 film Ae Fond Kiss, screened as part of a week of diversity events at the University of Glasgow.

"My question is very simple. Should priests and bishops have so much influence in a school supported 100% by the taxpayer? And, by implication, should religious figures of any denomination have so much influence in any school?."

Laverty told his own story of separate education in Wigtown in the 1960s. "The population wasn’t big enough to support two schools," he said. "This problem was solved by placing all the Catholic children inside one classroom with one Catholic teacher, inside the bigger 'Protestant' school. We even had separate playtimes.

"'Us' and 'them' was ingrained in our consciousness from day one. This is insane, especially when funded by the state … if it seems mad in a tiny village, how much more so in a sectarian city?” Laverty called for children of all faiths to be educated together."
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, did not find the argument persuasive:
"There is a sectarian problem in Scotland, but it is facile to lay the blame for that at the doors of Scotland’s schools."
Yeah, the fact that you can meet people in the 21st century who didn't interact with anyone from across the confessional divide until they were sixteen has had absolutely no effect on Scotland's sectarian problem. Paul Laverty asked:
"We have more than enough division to heal without creating more. Is joint playtime, irrespective of creed or colour, really beyond us?"
We live in a country where the teachers in 'shared campuses' in North Lanarkshire want toilets for staff to be divided on religious grounds so I'm afraid it probably is.

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