Religion in Schools is about Fairness, says UJEB
The United Jewish Education Board (UJEB) today expressed support for the Special Religious Instruction (SRI) program, but called on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) to review its implementation to ensure all students were treated fairly, regardless of whether they choose to participate in the program.
The commencement of the VCAT action against DEECD had, according to UJEB president Mr Yossi Goldfarb, “… raised concerns from the families of over 1,200 Jewish children who receive Jewish SRI. While there is room for improvement in the current system, the provision of SRI to smaller religious groups is a critical cornerstone for a multicultural Victoria.”
“The Jewish community in general, and UJEB families in particular, appreciate the opportunity that the SRI program provides to our children. Rather than being eliminated, the SRI program should be maintained in its current format, but improved so that children are not marginalised. DEECD should also consider ensuring that a genuine alternative to religious education is offered in parallel to SRI for families seeking this option.”
UJEB provides Jewish Studies to more than 1,200 children in over 35 government primary schools, and has been doing so for almost 120 years. “We have never, and will never, set out to proselytise; we simply wish to provide Jewish SRI to families seeking this education for their children,” Mr Goldfarb said.
“In our opinion, the VCAT case seeks to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’. Fairness for all children can be achieved though better implementation of the current program. We think there’s a better “third way” that could offer an acceptable compromise for all, and we’d be happy to speak to anyone interested in genuine dialogue on this important issue,” he concluded.