North Coast schools grapple with ruling on religion

A possible ban against single religion public schools has local school governing bodies on the North Coast rethinking their religious policies.

Last week, the South Gauteng High Court ruled against public schools promoting a single religion while excluding others.

The court decision, which would affect about 442 government schools in the Ilembe district alone, came after the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (OGOD) brought forward an interdict against six schools who they said were examples of how some practices at public schools were unconstitutional by promoting a Christian ethos while discriminating against other religions and neglecting scientific thinking.

The ruling that would come into effect in about a month if it is not taken on appeal, is based on the principle that government resources should not be used to promote a single religion in a democratic state where diversity is to be celebrated.

Parents and school governing bodies would play the main role in deciding which religions children are to be exposed to at schools and how to go about doing so.

Umhlali Preparatory School governing body chairperson Jon de Wet said the board needed to discuss if and how the new judgement could affect the school’s practices.

“The schools are currently closed but I will be raising this matter with the governing body at the next meeting where we will decide what will happen in the future or if any changes should be made.”

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Erica Abrahams

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