Greater choice of primary schools would satisfy every ethos
There was much discussion this week following a Government proposal which aims to remove the so called 'baptism barrier' that applies to the school admission process.
As 90 per cent of the schools in this country are run under a Catholic ethos it is felt by many that this majority does not fit with the diverse faith and culture that is in Irish society today.
As a rural dweller, I was never aware that this was even an issue and both the schools I attended, while they were Catholic, welcomed pupils from other faiths once they were within the catchment area.
If a school is willing to accommodate a pupil who does not wish to take religious instruction, and allow them to be excused from such, then that would appear to me to be quite an agreeable compromise.
In rural areas, particularly, this system had to be put in place years ago because there simply was no other option for many.
The Educate Together model hadn't been founded and you simply attended the school closest to your home.
There is an appetite however for a greater variety of school patronage and this is not being delivered quickly enough.
The problem is not that Catholic schools are excluding pupils of other faiths and none, but that there are not enough non-denominational schools out there to cater for pupils.
In rural areas, even today, there is not likely to be an adequate population to justify opening new primary schools, so lifting the 'baptism barrier' rule certainly makes sense.
I can only imagine that non-Catholic pupils have only been refused admission if there is a Catholic child also living in the catchment area who requires that place.
It is as much about population as anything, particularly in cities where families start putting their children on school place waiting lists at the time of birth.
This is a ludicrous situation and certainly needs to be addressed.
I think that people are dwelling too much on the religious side of this issue and unfairly criticising schools with a Catholic ethos who are simply trying to deliver education with the ethos they have always had.
What we need are more options for families so that every child can be educated in an environment that is right for them and their family.