Hindus have alleged that Ireland’s Junior Certificate in “Religious Education” program is flawed as minority religions are not getting fair and even treatment.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that in addition to much broader coverage to the majority religion as compared to minority religions, the syllabus of this program appeared to be imposing the value systems of the majority religion and looking at “other” religions through the lens of majority religion.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that in the increasingly diverse and multicultural Ireland, equal time should be provided to each of the major religions and non-belief in the syllabus of such certification. Public funds should not be used to promote one belief system over the other.
Moreover, this syllabus only covered Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism and there was apparently no mention of Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Baha’ism, Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, etc.; despite the fact that “rationale” of the program was given as: “Religious Education should ensure that students are exposed to a broad range of religious traditions…”, Rajan Zed noted.
Zed further said that opening-up the Ireland children to unbiased view of major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It also made a good business sense in a global community to know the beliefs of “others” from a neutral perspective. Moreover, students should have the honest knowledge of the entire society to become full participants in the society.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Ireland students mostly knew the basics of majority religion, learning from homes/churches/schools/etc., and there was urgent need to create awareness about “other” beliefs so they could acquire the basic grounding in belief.
Zed urged serious reexamining and rebuilding of the Junior Certificate in “Religious Education” program so that all the belief systems and non-believers got equal treatment and without any bias.
Rajan Zed hoped that Ireland might look at religious education with a neutral perspective and treat minority religions with equality and respect they deserved under the leadership of newly elected Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Dr. Leo Varadkar, who was of Hindu descent.