By Mpho Mabitsela
The national policy on religion and education adopted in September 2003 states that religious education should be based on diversity in religion and not promote one religion.
But in most of our public schools Christianity is the religion that is enforced. Children are taught to pray the Christian prayer ‘Our Father’ even though maybe according to their religion they probably pray differently.
Does this really mean that all South Africans have the right to choose and freely practice their religion? We still have schools that expel children because they grow dreadlocks to school just because the school doesn’t allow it. Why isn’t it asked why the child does this? It could be because the child is Rastafarian or Muslim and that is the only way they can present themselves in public.
This may be the reason why some parents prefer to send their children to religion-specific schools. This may be so that the child may be brought up and groomed in terms of that religion. No religion should be forced onto a child. Some parents fear what they consider ‘lies’ (like the science behind how the world came to be) because it may clash with their religious beliefs. These religious-specific schools are private and therefore expensive, so how do people that can’t afford it and don’t follow Christianity teach their children about their religion? And also, there are a few of these schools so what about people that stay far from them?
Our public schools should learn to diversify religious education giving the students an opportunity to choose whatever religion they see fit or the ones they follow originally from home. Also, they should present themselves according to the way they supposed to in their religion as long as it does not offend anyone.