Free «Teaching Religions at Schools» Essay
Teaching religions at schools is a controversial issue as some people think since the subjects related to religious studies enhance the violation of religious freedom, propaganda of a certain faith, and intensification of discord between different religious groups. Nevertheless, many opponents of these claims find numerous reasonable ideas to support teaching religions at schools. Despite this fact, there are many educational establishments where teaching several religions is not approved at all. In the majority of the countries, all faiths are discussed in the equal way to avoid any slight shade of religious propaganda or intolerance. In other countries, where the state is not officially separated from the church, teaching religions may differ since one of them is regarded as a true one and the others as mistakenly followed streams.
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The proponents of religious education at schools claim that there are many reasons for early religious education. Thus, Haynes and Thomas (2001, p. 73) state that well-rounded education is not possible to achieve without thorough awareness of world religions and beliefs. Moreover, it is indicated that religious education helps increase the students’ knowledge of the history, culture, and traditions of the countries where the studied religion is predominant (Haynes & Thomas, 2001, p. 74). Furthermore, it is thoughtless to interpret certain religious signs and attributes in the wrong way since it may serve for fostering religious intolerance. Haynes and Thomas (2001, p. 74) insist that teaching religions at schools not only increases cultural and historical awareness, but also stimulates students to be tolerant to the representatives of other confessions and propagates religious freedom among them.
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The situation with religious education in Japan is very peculiar. Though the country has no official faith, the majority of citizens practice Shintoism, Buddhism, Christianity, or any other religion (Central Intelligence Agency, n.d.). According to Japanese laws, no religion should be propagated at schools since such behavior fosters religious intolerance (Sugihara, 1998). Sugihara (1998) claims that because of these laws, the country lacks religious education. Such an ignorance leads to serious outcomes. Nevertheless, there are courses at public schools that provide children with a general unbiased information and knowledge about different religious streams to increase the cultural awareness of the students (Inoue, 2009, p. 580). On the contrary, Sugihara (1998) indicates that only private schools offer their students religious education if the teacher has a special license. Overall, it is possible to assume that the situation in Japan has changed in the last 11 years.
Very little information can be found about teaching religions in the UAE. However, there is much evidence about methodology of teaching Islam at schools (Abdulghani, 1994). Therefore, one can assume that there are no courses of general religious awareness in the country. In the UAE, schools are segregated for the representatives of two sexes since the state does not allow boys and girls to study in the same place. For this reason, it is possible to assume that teaching of religion is very strict and unidirectional. Islam is regarded as the primary teaching; other religions are not considered as important though some basic information can be given for making the comparison. Islamic rules are followed in schools; therefore, this religion is studied practically.
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All in all, religious education is an important part of school curriculum. Despite all benefits that courses on world religions are reported to have, schools in some countries like the UAE do not provide their students thorough knowledge of other faiths, except for Islam. In Japan, the situation is different. It is stated that over the course of the last decade, the attitude to teaching religions at schools became different. There are courses that make children aware about various religions and beliefs despite the fact that there are two predominant religions in Japan. In general, most countries consider the fact of religious liberty and offer students the courses that increase their awareness about all religions, not just one as in the United Arab Emirates.