EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Promoting the higher
interest of the child in religious education
religious education in Romania’s public schools
education in public schools in Romania is marred by a series of flaws
that run contrary to children’s rights to dignity, protection against
abuse, non-discrimination, education, and freedom of conscience,
including the consideration of children’s options. The Romanian
Constitution acknowledges the right to religious education. Most
importantly, the child’s higher interest enjoys precedence in the
context of education as well. Nevertheless, religious education had
already developed to a stable configuration before these values and
principles were first codified legally through Law no. 272/2004 on the
protection and promotion of children’s rights. So far, the following
disturbing facts have been identified:
• Teaching of religion
Romania’s public schools is organised on confessional lines (i.e.,
teaches the precepts of a particular faith).
• The Romanian
school system does not respect the initial facultative legal status of
teaching religion in public schools, at the contrary, in practice,
religion is compulsory at all educational levels.
teachers, often priests, are subordinated to both Ministry of Education
and Research and the religious cults. Teachers need a formal approval
of the cult to be allowed to teach religion.
are discriminated and in several occasions obliged to participate in
religious rituals, prayers, ceremonies of the majority
• The ubiquity of religious icons or other religious
(in the vast majority of cases Christian Orthodox) in classrooms, now
frequently doubled by Orthodox places of worship built within the
school premises, especially in the large urban centres. These practices
may engender segregation and feelings of rejection among children
coming from non-Orthodox or non-religious families.
textbooks and curricula include intolerant and offending
on other religions and beliefs than the majority Christian
• As currently designed, religious education
confessional in content, dogmatic in doctrine, and involves the
practice of religious rituals during classes. Practically speaking,
religion classes are used for catechization. Especially when they
involve very young children, they completely blur the distinction
between freely expressed religious options and indoctrination.This book
detailed analysis of religious education and religious practices in
Romania’s public schools, as well as the evaluation of the opinions
expressed by teachers and students in 3750 questionnaires applied in
schools from all the regions of the country.
Religious indoctrination in schools is funded by public money, as
religion teachers (many of which are priests without educational
training and wearing religious attire in class) are paid by the state
rather than the parishes.
• Children and parents are ill
and often deliberately kept in the dark, about the elective status of
religion classes. Often, children who want to abandon the religion
class or refuse to enrol in religion classes are pressured into
acceptance by the teachers.
• Religion classes are even used
teachers to promote intolerance toward different or vulnerable groups
(ethnic, religious, sexual minorities etc.).
with a list of recommendations for a substantial reform of the teaching
of religion in Romania’s public schools.
has been supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Romania in the
frame of the MATRA - KAP Small Projects Program.