Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Parents have right to choose education system

I refer to the recent comments about the role and place of faith-based schools in our emerging society.

Parents are the first and most enduring educators of their children. The responsibilities of parenthood are lifelong, demanding and crucial to the formation of a caring and sustainable society.

Parents have an inalienable right to choose the type and nature of schooling for their children. It is widely accepted that faith-based education is a right in a pluralist society.

Government is not the primary agent in education and, occasionally, it does no harm to remind politicians of this.

The raison d'etre of faith-based schools is founded on respect, tolerance and promotion of the common good based on Gospel values.

If a school, or a school system, has little else to guide it but an ever-increasing range of conflicting expectations, ideas and plans, whatever their merit, amidst competition for resources, then it will be almost impossible to retain or improve reliability or standards.

All parents must be free to choose schools for their children in accordance with their convictions and conscience.

Parents and faith schools depend upon their political leaders to exercise great care in planning an education system and in providing a comparability of opportunities across a range of choices.

This is the hallmark of a society of plural values, diversity and inclusivity.

DERMOT G MULLAN

Chairman, Catholic Heads Association

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