Main Facts about the Religious Education in Schools are given below:
1. Religion is a very important aspect of human life. There is a difference between a lower animal and man, because man can deliberate over spiritual reasoning’s on the basis of religion. In the modern world of materialism man is badly in need of spiritualism.
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Man cannot get peace through worldly pleasures, because there is no end to the same. In worldly pleasures the drive for material things goes on accelerating. Under such a situation religion must be given a place in education, because religion alone can acquaint man with the shallowness of worldly things.
History, geography, science, mathematics and other subjects taught in schools lead only to the fulfillment of material needs. They develop the mind, but the spiritual side of one’s personality is entirely untouched by them. Religious education will promote human values.
2. We find many social evils today because of lack of true religious feelings. These evils are projected through intolerance, enmity and selfishness both in national and international fields. Religion alone can help us to eradicate these evils.
3. Religion must not be understood in a narrow sense. Religious education does not mean education in a particular religion. In fact, it means to concentrate on the essence (and essentials) of all religions.
If religion is understood in a liberal sense, all evils of life will be wiped off. Within religious education in schools no place should be given to observance of various rituals. Instead, we have to emphasize certain common human ideals. Only then religious education will be useful.
4. Today we find fault in religious virtues, because people have moved away from God and religion. Religion is the pivotal point through which education may be given for development of various virtues. So we cannot ignore religion in any scheme of education.
5. India is a religious country. Material pleasures have always been shunned in India in face of religious ideals. So we cannot think of any scheme of education without a place to religion in it. But we have to remember that religious education should be based on religion of humanity.
6. In modern days scientific reasoning and materialism are getting upper hand over everything else. The people of most developed countries which rush after material wealth are undergoing great tension which has resulted in two world wars.
These tensions are ever growing even now. Where shall we go if we follow the footsteps of these countries and ignore our own great religions and spiritual tradition? However, this does not imply that we want to starve to death being imbued with spiritual cravings.
It is true that we have to fill up on bellies at first before obtaining spiritual heights. Today there is a necessity for striking a balance between spiritualism and materialism. We can get this balance through education alone. So education must have the colour of religion of humanity.
7. Various educationists of our country have supported the cause of religious education. The names of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Madan Mohan Malviya, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, and Radhakrishnan and of many others may be quoted in this context.
According to these men the basis of religious education should be religion of humanity which essentially implies silent prayer, study of lives of great religious leaders and basic principles of various religions.
The recent speech in which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams warned against the “downgrading” of religious education in schools has provoked a vigorous debate over the principles of teaching religion as part of the UK education syllabus.
Those in favour of religious education want RE to be included in the English Baccalaureate; the new set of core subjects the Coalition Government has introduced to assess schools on academic achievement. Their argument is that the subject should be included in the humanities section, alongside subjects like geography and history.
However other commentators have spoken out to argue that, given the increasingly secular nature of British society, RE should not necessarily be included on the syllabus at all. The subject currently forms part of the National Curriculum, making it compulsory for all students to study it for some part of their education, but it is not a compulsory GCSE subject like maths, English and science.
Those arguing against the inclusion of RE in the National Curriculum claim that whilst it could still be taught as an optional extra subject at faith schools, it is no longer relevant or useful to a wide (and ever widening) sector of the general public, who grow up in secular homes and might feel uncomfortable about the compulsory study of religious methods and beliefs.
However, in a society facing ever-increasing fractures, violence and unrest such as the recent riots across UK cities, and with racially and culturally motivated crime sadly still prevalent, it has surely never been more important to include an awareness and understanding of diverse religious and cultural beliefs and traditions in our children’s education. Not, as Williams argues, because of the importance of supporting religion itself, but because of the desperately important need for understanding and knowledge of all different ways of life and belief systems if we are to end the problems of hatred and fear born of ignorance.
Not only does religious education foster understanding and tolerance of different belief systems, it also provides a healthy opportunity for children and teenagers to engage in debate and discussion about important social issues related to cultural difference and perceived social barriers. Allowing a safe and supported space for such discussions to thrive can be essential in preventing frustration from flaring into violence later on.