News from Europe

UN committee urges schools to withdraw from religious classes in the UK

A United Nations committee has urged the UK to repeal laws requiring the provision of 'broadly Christian' worship in UK schools.

A most fundamental freedom is at risk: the right of parents to choose how to educate their children.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)has published a proposal that states children of all ages should be allowed to opt out of religious classes in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, they recommend that sex education for adolescents should be mandatory. According to the report, UK and Northern Ireland governments should “integrate comprehensive, age-appropriate and evidence-based education on sexual and reproductive health into mandatory school curricula at all levels of education and into teacher training, and ensure that it includes education on sexual diversity, sexual and reproductive health rights, responsible sexual behaviour and violence prevention, without the possibility for faith-based schools or parents to opt out of such education”.

The report calls for revoking collective worship in schools and introducing standard guidance “to ensure the right of all children, including children under 16 years of age, to withdraw from religious classes without parental consent”.

Relationships education has been compulsory in English schools since September 2020. Sex education is taught in secondary schools and parents have the right to withdraw their children up until three terms before their 16th birthday, after which time the child has the right to opt in.

The report also demands the decriminalization of abortion in Northern Ireland in all circumstances.

This latest proposal of the CRS seems to be a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states:

‘No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’

Religious education institutions provide vital support in literacy and numeracy, but they have been under increasing threat in the UK. 


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