THE TEACHING ABOUT RELIGION AT SLOVENE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

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1 THE TEACHING ABOUT RELIGION AT SLOVENE PUBLIC SCHOOLS Zdenko Kodeja Educationa Research Institute Ljubjana, Sovenia The teaching about reigion at pubic schoos in Sovenia is, from a ega point of view, simiar to that in France or USA 1 and at the same time, different from that of the majority of European countries where the aws guarantee reigious instruction within the framework of the pubic schoo. According to the Sovene Constitution, there is a separation of Church and State. For this reason reigious instruction at the pubic schoo is expicity prohibited by the schoo aws. 2 Formery that was competey different. Before the Second Word War, reigious instruction was not ony an obigatory schoo matter at the pubic schoo, but it was aso regarded as base and crowning of pubic education. The answer that can expain why reigious instruction and reigion were treated thus can be found in the conception that today is sti frequenty defended, and according to which, there are no moras independent of reigion, and consequenty no education independent of reigion, because there is no education without moras. After the Second Word War this conception was no onger acceptabe to the Yugosav State, of which Sovenia formed an integra part, because the officia ideoogy was Marxism. But in spite of the change of the dominant ideoogy and the separation of Church and State, reigious instruction at schoo was toerated unti From then on, reigious instruction was expeed from the schoo and was organized by the Churches in eccesiastica buidings. Ony exceptionay was it organized inside schoo premises, but aways separate from reguar casses. At pubic schoo, reigious instruction was repaced by civic and mora education. The communist party required the exact same thing of schoos that the Cathoic Church had prior; that a schoo subjects, even mathematics and the natura sciences, be permeated with their ideoogy, once of Cathoicism, and now Marxism. It was a case of ideoogicay directed teaching, which excuded THE SCHOOL FIELD VOLUME X (1999) NUMBER 3/4 pp

2 154 THE SCHOOL FIELD VOLUME X NUMBER 3/4 a facts contrary to its doctrines. In this vision of the schoo (schoo as an ideoogica apparatus), which was common to the Cathoic Church and the Communist Party, there was no pace for neutra teaching, which characterized, to a certain extent, the idea of the French secuar pubic schoo or écoe aïque. Neutra teaching was necessariy condemned because if teaching consecrates a doctrine, it consequenty condemns a those which are different. 3 But in the Seventies, certain representatives of the Cathoic Church in Sovenia started to defend the idea of the neutra schoo in the name of human rights, which the Cathoic Church condemned unti the Vatican Counci II ( ). The Cathoic Church s criticism of the schoo, as an agency of Marxist indoctrination, seems more justified considering that from the end of the Second Word War unti 1991, private schoos were prohibited in Sovenia, except for seminaries and theoogica facuties. By this fact, it is competey cear that the government did not respect the iberty of the parents (...) to choose for their chidren schoos, other than those estabished by the pubic authorities. This freedom of the parents, which comes from their right to ensure reigious and mora education of their chidren in conformity with their own convictions, is guaranteed by the Internationa Covenant on Economic, Socia and Cutura Rights. 4 After 1991, existence of the private schoo is again authorized thanks to the new concept of the educationa system in Sovenia, which is founded on the basis of human rights and other poitica, cutura and mora vaues which ie at the root of a civiized society (puraist democracy, toerance, soidarity and the rue of aw). 5 From that point on the State sha respect the right of the parents, to choose that their chidren attend private schoos. In this manner one can, in principe, aso choose denominationa schoos in which reigious and mora education is in conformity with the convictions of the parents of the pupis. But this right of the parents, which is very significant, poses a arge probem, the probem of the reigious freedom of the pupi. Unti what moment can the parents choose the reigion of their chidren without, at the same time, vioating the right of the chid, his right to the freedom of thought, conscience and reigion, which is registered in artice 14 of the Internationa Convention of the rights of the chid. Does the State in this case have to respect the rights of the parents or the rights of the chidren? No matter the answer, it shoud be noted that there is an insovabe probem because of the contradiction between the two rights in their practica appication. 6 The second probem invoved in this right of the parents is the consequence of a fase interpretation, according to which, the parents have the right to require reigious instruction at pubic schoos. This right does not

3 THE TEACHING ABOUT RELIGION AT SLOVENE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 155 appear in the internationa documents on human rights. During this time the Sovene Cathoic Church used the pubic schoo, which was secuar in Sovenia, as a target for attacks because it excuded reigious instruction as we as a other reigious practices (prayer, mass etc.). These attacks provoked the anticericaism, which the Church retroactivey interprets as proof of hatred towards the Church and not as a reaction to its attacks on secuarity (aïcité) within the framework of the pubic schoo. The point of misunderstanding coud aso be artice 26 of the Universa Decaration of Human Rights, where we can read, Education sha be directed to the fu deveopment of the human personaity... 7 The question that arises here is with knowing if the fu deveopment of the human personaity presupposes a reigious dimension or not. For the Cathoic Church, for exampe, according to which, man is from his nature, a reigious being, even if this reigious dimension is not conscious, the answer is of course affirmative. But it is, at the same time, an offence for those who do not accept being considered incompete men because they are not reigious peope. For them the answer is, of course, negative. With regard to the reform of the pubic education system, the major change on the eve of the obigatory schoo is, without any doubt, the introduction of optiona schoo subjects. Each schoo must offer at east six in the seventh, eighth and ninth year, or the ast three years obigatory schooing. The optiona discipines wi have the function of ooking further into and enriching obigatory teaching. Each pupi shoud choose three from the six optiona subjects. Among other possibiities, the pupi can aso choose to earn about reigions and ethics. It shoud be a nonconfessiona subject that aows each pupi, whatever his persona conviction, to deepen and widen his knowedge of the reigious facts that he had acquired within the framework of the obigatory subjects. The contents of this specific subject, named Reigions and ethics, are divided into three parts which correspond to what must be taught in the ast three years of obigatory schooing. To these obigatory topics are added the optiona topics from which the teachers and the pupis can choose. The principa reigious topics woud be the foowing: In seventh year of schooing: obigatory topics are: Word reigions, Christianity, Isam, and Buddhism. optiona topics are: Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, new reigious movements and traditiona reigions.

4 156 THE SCHOOL FIELD VOLUME X NUMBER 3/4 In eighth year of schooing: obigatory topics are: reigious cuture, rites, symbos and the reigious communities, reigions and the probem of evi, sin, death and the direction of ife, ethica prospects for the reigions. optiona topics are: Churches, sects and monastic communities, reations between Church and State, magic and occutism. In ninth year of schooing: obigatory topics are: Christianity and Western civiization, the Bibe (Od and New Testaments), Cathoicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Enightenment, Christianity in Sovenia, reigions and the sense of ife, reigious freedom and freedom of conscience. optiona topics are: reigious toerance, wars of reigion, science and reigious beief, atheism and humanism. As for the contents of this discipine, which was prepared by a team of experts (incuding theoogists), it shoud be stressed that unti now the contents were not objects of criticism. The object of mistrust and quarre is, on the other hand, the introduction of Reigions and ethics as a discipine specific to pubic schoos. For those who do not agree with the introduction of this new subject, it is ony masked reigious instruction, a Trojan horse aowing the return of the Church to the pubic schoo. For the Cathoic Church, the teaching of this subject Reigions and ethics is unacceptabe because it is nonconfessiona. In other words, it is unacceptabe because it is the teaching about reigions and not the teaching of a particuar reigion, and especiay, because everything concerning this subject (the training of the teachers, preparation of the programs and handbooks and the foow-up) is in the competence of the officia institutions of the State, as is the case in a other schoo matters, and not in the competence of the Cathoic Church itsef, as it wants. In concusion, we can say that in Sovenia we wi have two forms of the teaching about reigions at the obigatory and secuar pubic schoo: firsty, as a specific subject, optiona and nonconfessiona, secondy, as an integra part of some other subjects, in particuar, civic and mora education, history and iterature.

5 THE TEACHING ABOUT RELIGION AT SLOVENE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 157 Notes [1] France and the USA are countries whose constitution entais compete separation of Church and State. The consequence is that no confessiona reigious education is aowed in pubic schoos. But this does not mean that the reigion as such is removed from the curricuum of pubic schoos, because the teaching about reigion is permitted. [2] The reigious instruction is aowed ony exceptionay (under certain conditions) in pubic schoos during non-instructiona time. In private schoos, which are aso conceived as institutions that shoud meet the specific requirements of those parents who want to educate their chidren in accordance with specific reigious, mora and phiosophica convictions, the reigious instruction is, of course, permitted. [3] O. Rebou, L endoctrinement, PUF, Paris 1977, p. 57. [4] Artice 13 paragraph 3. The Internationa Covenant on Economic, Socia and Cutura Rights was adopted by Genera Assemby res 2200 a (XXI) on December 16, The Yugosav State ratified it in 1971 and it went into force on January 3, [5] "The European dimension of education: teaching and curricuum content"; "Résoution de a Conférence permanente des Ministres européens de 'Education sur 'a dimension européenne de 'éducation: pratique de 'enseignement et contenu des programmes'", Newsetter / Faits nouveaux, Counci of Europe, Strasbourg 1991/5, p. 3, 5. [6] Since both chid and parents have the same right, the question arises as to who reay has it when taking about the right to being educated in accordance with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and reigion. Unti The Convention on the Rights of Chidren was accepted, it was cear that that right had been given to parents, athough it had been, as The Decaration on aboishing a forms of intoerance and discrimination based on reigion or convictions, written as the right of the chid to be educated, in terms of reigion or conviction, according to his/her parents wishes. However, if now, according to The Convention on the Right of Chidren, it can be concuded that a chid s right to freedom of thought, conscience and reigion aso impies a right that he/she is educated according to his/her reigious beiefs, than a state can secure that chid s right ony by vioating the right of the parents. Simiary, the right of the parents can ony be secured by vioating the right of the chid. [7] The same formuation is written in the Internationa Covenant on Economic, Socia and Cutura Rights (Artice 13.1).

6 158 THE SCHOOL FIELD VOLUME X NUMBER 3/4

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