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Patriarch, displeased education bill reduces religion importance

Patriarch Daniel on Wednesday sent to Chamber of Deputies’ Speaker Roberta Anastase a series of amendments to the education bill, regarding the status of religion classes and of the people who teach this discipline. According to Mediafax, Patriarch Daniel is displeased that an article in the bill allows students to replace religion, on demand, with other classes. “I’ve taken note, with amazement and concern, of some provisions of the education bill in the form sent by the Romanian government into Parliament, on April 14, form which, on the one hand, differs in some aspects, important for the Romanian Orthodox Church, from the text which was the object of public debate, and, on the other hand, ignores some objections of the Romanian Patriarchy, which addressed the non-concordance of the new act with provisions of Law no. 489/2006, regarding religious freedom and the general regime of religious cults,” is stated in the letter sent, on Wednesday, by Daniel to Anastase.


Among the provisions that need modifying, Patriarch Daniel mentions an article according to which, “on demand, instead of religion classes, students may take history of religions, culture and art history or other classes contributing to the shaping of ethical, social or community behaviour”. Referring to this article, the patriarch says it was not featured in the initial form of the bill, that it reduces the importance of religion among other school subjects and may generate forms of abuse, allowing school principals the possibility to complete teachers’ work load, where need be, by withdrawing students from religion classes.


The new education bill generated other types of discussions as well, in this case, on supplementing the rights of minorities. Thus, Deputy Prime Minister Marko Bela said yesterday at a seminar on the Roma community, that the education bill includes provisions which will lead to “a wider range of rights and special solutions for minorities, including for Roma children”. “I may add that the education bill is a good start for de-centralising decisions and allowing local communities the freedom to make decisions. This includes, above all, de-centralising funding, namely, the funding per student, which will be given a higher coefficient for minorities, according to the specific ethnic make-up of the region. This will lead to a wider range of rights and special solutions for minorities, including Roma children,” Marko said. Referring to the Roma, Marko added that, in Romania, we witness the implementation of a number of solutions, but that there are no visible results as yet.


On the other hand, on Thursday, members of the Chamber of Deputies’ education committee passed five more articles in the new education bill, as well as new principles, including the one promoting education for health by sport, and modified article 8, referring to public and private schools.

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