Religious Based SchoolsbyPrincessErin©
In the Province of Ontario, Canada, there is a big discussion ongoing on regarding religious based schools. It is a highly charged discussion with both sides becoming very passionate about their position. The issue at hand is whether religious based education is any better than the publicly funded school system. If the research shows that religious based education is better, then there is no need to have this discussion. It would make no sense whatsoever to remove something from the education system that is working, or in some cases, is better than the original system.
There are many religious based schools that are not publicly funded. Publicly funded schools are those that receive taxpayer's money to run their programs. Families and individuals identify to the government that they want to support a certain type of school and their taxes go to that board. In Ottawa, for example, we have four choices of school boards -- French Catholic, French Public, English Catholic, and English Public. If someone does not identify his or her preference, the default is the English public system.
This argument is not regarding those schools that are not government funded. Many parents choose to put their children in a school that is funded through their own money. They feel strongly that the education that their child would receive in a public school (and, of course, when I use the word public I'm talking about both French, English, Catholic, and Public) is not as high a quality as these 'private schools'. These non-funded schools rely solely on the donations of families and other religious organizations. As long as these schools continue to receive enough money to run, they will not close. From a government perspective, these schools are not causing any harm. Yes, the students are not registered at a school. However, their parents are still required to fund the public school system.
So why is a Catholic education any better than a public education? There are three main arguments that prove the importance of Catholic education. The first is that morals are imbedded into the curriculum. The second is that it teaches students about the world around them. The third is it teaches students that they have a purpose in life.
The Ontario government, in the last few years, chose to add character development to their curriculum. This program was really just a secular version of the religious education program currently in place in Catholic schools. Students need to be taught morals and there is no better place to do that than in school. Students should be taught right from wrong and they need to understand that there are consequences to their actions. Research demonstrates that people behave in a certain way because they are happy with the reaction, the response they get. Students need to understand that their actions have a consequence and what better way to do this then in a religious environment. Learning about caring for others and how Jesus wants us to act is the perfect way to teach young children right from wrong. I'm not saying that it can't be done in a secular environment, but the methods are so much better when you can tie in religious doctrine to proper behavior.
Students are becoming more and more self-centered. The age of technology has created a world of individuals who communicate through instant messaging, not face-to-face discussion. Social skills are not taught and are not required. The art of body language and tone of voice are not needed in this age of technology. Although technology has created some very good things, there are negatives such as those listed above. Religious education and religious based schools teach students about the world. They teach students about a very common theory called Preferential Option for the Poor. The idea is that we need to help others in need. We need to help them not because it's the right thing to do, not because we will feel good about doing it, not because we will be rewarded for being nice to those in need. The reason we help those that are less fortunate than us is because that is what Jesus did and we need to be more like Jesus. This is such a simple idea, but it has created some very important movements. One in particular is an organization called Ryan's Well. A grade one student acknowledged that those in Africa did not have clean water and decided to raise money to put in wells so that the people of Africa would have clean drinking water. This student demonstrated the complete opposite of self-centeredness. Ryan Hreljac demonstrated complete selfless love for others.
The word vocation means a calling. In life, we are called to do certain things. Unless we are born into a rich family or are lucky and win the lottery, we must all work for a living. Not many people can say that they truly enjoy their jobs, but I would like to think that a few do enjoy their jobs most of the time. This joy of working comes from the idea that their job is their vocation, their calling, as opposed to their career. When you want to do something you have the energy, the interest, and the motivation to complete the task. Work doesn't feel like work because you are enjoying it as you do it. Students need to learn that they can indeed find a job that is their vocation. It is a challenge, but it is a worthwhile challenge. Teaching students that there are careers that are vocations are extremely important in allowing students to develop as a whole person. Religious based schools teach vocations and teach students that they have a purpose in life.
Being told from a young age that you have a purpose in life is rewarding and important for students. The idea that all humans were created from God is imperative to this argument. Students need to know that they will find a career that is their vocation. When they do, they will not struggle in their jobs as much as they would otherwise. I'm not saying that if someone finds a vocation that his or her job won't be challenging. This is not the case. What I mean is that knowing that there is a job, a career, out there specifically for you and that you are meant to do this job, it is your calling.
The current Ontario government is looking at cutting the funding to Catholic school boards. The pressures they are receiving are from those that are obsessed with political correctness. The fact that historically speaking, only Catholics receive funding from the government is a touchy subject. What we need to comprehend is that Catholic education is equally if not more important in this day and age. Catholic education does not threaten public education. Catholic education is needed and wanted and gives students the best tools to succeed in society today.
Send private anonymous feedback to the author (to post a public comment instead).