Right now, public schools across Australia generally have religious education classes. Thanks to the high involvement and lack of seperation between church and state in this country, generally if someone does not wish their kid to be indoctrinated in these classes, the childs only option is to sit out and do, well, nothing.
The Humanist Society of Victoria have been pushing for a number of years to have an alternative so that kids who sit out of these classes have something productive to do other than sit in a small room with no books and nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs. This has always been rejected by the religious right and their influences though as it may give these kids an upper hand, allowing them an opportunity to get educated in something the other kids cannot. They fail every time to see the irony here, they are essentially saying their own course on religion is useless and does not contribute to ones education.
What the Humanist Society of Victoria have been pushing for the strongest, is an ethics class as an alternative. More irony to the religious right, they are essentially saying the kids who attend religion class won’t learn about ethics. A quick look at the bible seems to confirm this.
After that very long introduction though, I am finally getting to my point. It would appear the NSW government has beaten Victoria to the punch. Out of almost nowhere, the NSW Premier Nathan Reese has announced today that schools across the state of NSW will be getting ethics classes as an alternative to religion.
It is a shame that this isn’t the result of NSW humanist associations, but it is still a very big win in my mind for the path paved by the Victorian groups. The course being offered is one designed by St James Ethics Centre, so one has to wonder if there is to be any religious indoctrination in their version of ethics, however a quick perusal of their site seems to suggest there isn’t.
This is brilliant news for NSW, here’s hoping the trial goes well and gets rolled out across all schools as well as giving Victoria a step up in their campaign for the same thing.