Monday, January 24

Teachers and parents denounce the boycott of the Religion class in Catalonia




The Religion subject has been in low hours for years in Catalonia. The number of students taking the subject in public school has dropped dramatically since 2017, from 57,330 students enrolled in the 2017-2018 academic year. (17 percent of the total) at 18,581 (3.1 percent) registered in the last year for which data are available (2021-22). This is revealed by the official statistics provided by the Catalan department to ABC and also collected in a recent response from the autonomous administration to the Vox parliamentary group.

The figures are overwhelming. 38,749 students have been lost in just five years –A total of 15,000 only in the last three years–, a trend that, however, is not intuited when the pulse of citizens is taken on the need for the presence of this subject in school. According to the latest Barometer on Religiosity, from the General Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Generalitat, Almost half of Catalans – 49.2 percent – are in favor of parents being able to ask for the Religion subject at school, compared to 43.1 percent who are against it.

Collusion with Inspection

This high percentage (almost half of those surveyed) contrasts with the aforementioned figures derived from the enrollment process, which are drastically younger, especially in public school. Why are there so few students who end up taking the subject despite having a significant part of the population that defends it?

A representative sector of the Religion teaching staff is clear on this. “The centers themselves boycott it, with the connivance of the educational inspection,” despite the fact that according to the agreements in force between the State and the Holy See, and various regulations in force, the subject must be “of a compulsory offer for the centers and of a voluntary nature for the male and female students ». How is this boycott exercised? “In many cases they do not mention the subject to families in the open days prior to pre-enrollment, and in others, when parents insist and mark the box on the form they hinder them from taking it and end up not enrolling their children” , the teachers assure.

“Fear of reporting”

Many of the professionals who teach the subject do not stand up to this situation “because they do not have a fixed position. They are afraid of pressure and losing their jobs », maintains the president of the PREC Religion teachers’ union, Ignacio Díaz. In Catalonia there are about a thousand teachers who teach the subject.

49% of parents support offering Religion, but only 3% choose it

A study carried out by your union reveals that 700 centers (schools and institutes) in Catalonia do not currently teach the subject. «It is still suspicious that in the same area, a few meters away, in a public center it is taught and in another it is not “, says the teacher. He has proof, and he shows it to this newspaper, that in some of the schools where Religion is not currently being taught, some parents have asked for it. “With just one request, the subject must be offered,” says Díaz, who considers that “democracy is the main victim of this situation.”

This course the pre-registration has been telematic and, as denounced by the president of PREC, “The document that is generated from the pre-registration does not include the option chosen by the parents”, which makes it difficult for families to claim that right. “In some schools they go without subtlety and tell you directly that they do not give Religion”, agree the different teachers consulted by ABC (some prefer to remain anonymous). “This school is secular and Catalan,” some directors warn families in their first contact. “The Generalitat wants to bury the subject and replace it with another non-denominational one: that of Religious Culture, in which different religions, not only the Catholic one, will be explained to the students,” the teachers point out. The Government’s plans for the matter are aligned with those of the Government. In the new educational law, known as ‘Celaá law’, The course is still a mandatory offer but does not count in the file. Likewise, according to the draft of the curriculum prepared by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) and which has transpired in recent days, the subject will address equality between men and women, the value of diversity in society and intercultural dialogue, among others. issues.

“A good chance”

For the defenders of the subject of Religion in Catalonia, the proposal that raises the new educational reform – open to public consultation until next October 21 – is presented as “A very good opportunity to reverse the situation”. “By giving so much prominence to the new status of the subject, the opportunity is created for families who were unaware of their right to demand it. In addition, it seems that the project to replace the confessional subject by a Culture of religions subject is buried, something that has been ratified by the Curriculum proposal that the EEC has presented to the Ministry, which leaves no room for doubt about the confessional nature of the subject. In addition, the subject is not left out of school hours, something that was pursued by the detractors of the presence of religion in the school, ”says Ignacio Díaz.

38,749 students have been lost in just five years – a total of 15,000 in just the last three years.

Regarding the reduction in hours, in Catalonia “It is not going to have a negative effect, since it was in fact something that was already done in many centers. Moreover, in some cases it will serve so that teachers have the opportunity to demand that instead of doing 45 minutes a week they do the time established by the Celaá Law and, most interestingly, that they may demand to teach the subject even in Infant and in the Baccalaureate, something that on many occasions is not respected in Catalonia. “, Adds the president of PREC.

The Catalan Catholic hierarchy has spoken on a few occasions on the issue, although the two highest representatives of the Church in this community, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Juan José Omella, and the former Archbishop of Tarragona, Jaume Pujol, have defended the existence of the subject. In a December 2018 radio interview (COPE), Omella asked that the right of families to choose the subject be respected. Pujol also defended the class years ago in a pastoral letter. In one of their last telematic meetings, on March 2, 2021, the bishops of the Tarragona Episcopal Conference expressed their “concern” about the new role that the ‘Celaá law’ grants to the subject.

Current agreements

Despite the pronouncements of the Catalan curia, the defenders of the Religion class feel “helpless.” Is it legal to boycott the subject? Several current agreements, those signed between the Holy See and the Spanish State (1979); those of cooperation between different confessions (1992); the Organic Law for the Improvement of Educational Quality (Lomce) of 2013, the Constitution (article 27.3) and the Statute of Catalonia (article 21.2), clearly point out that they are not.

Based on this regulatory framework, parents have the recognized right «For their children to receive religious and moral training in accordance with their convictions in public school ”and the Religion subject must be offered compulsorily. However, according to the Religion professors, the current agreements on this matter have been breached with impunity for years in this community.

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