PDA

View Full Version : Belgian schools nationwide in breach of fundamental human rights



Maciamo
05-01-06, 16:27
The thread about creatonism banned in US schools made me realise that Belgian schools are among the most conservative and backward schools in the developed world in matters of freedom of religion.

In my (public) primary school, there were compulsory religion classes, which taught creationism. We had tests, and if we didn't write that the world was made by god in 7 days, and Adam and Eve were the first humans on Earth, we would fail the year.

During all my primary and secondary education, we had such compulsory classes of Catholic Christianity, with no other choice of moral or philosophical education. Well, at least we had classes of philosophy as part of the French class in the last year of secondary school (only, and still in addition to Catholic propaganda classes). That was a semi-private (i.e. state-funded, but independent) Catholic school but my primary school was not. It was 100% state-controlled.

I inquired to see if anything had changed, and it hasn't ! At least, there are talks of replacing religion classes by philosophy classes. But then, it isn't sure that this will happen, as my mother told me she was asked to sign a petition to keep compulsory religion classes in schools (which she of course refused).

I can't believe that in one of the most secular country in the world, where people are generally not very religious (apart from some elderly people and a specific minority), all schools still have religion classes. That's all the more shocking that the very religious USA banned such teachings in schools.

Compulsory religion classes of one particular religion, without neutral alternatives are a clear violation of the UN Charter of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html) (=> freedom of religion), as well as of the Belgian Constitution (http://www.fed-parl.be/constitution_uk.html).



Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.




Art. 20

No one can be obliged to contribute in any way whatsoever to the acts and ceremonies of a religion, nor to observe the days of rest.
...
Art. 24

§ 1. Education is free; any preventative measure is forbidden; the repression of offences is only governed by law or decree.

The community offers free choice to parents.

The community organizes neutral education. Neutrality implies notably the respect of the philosophical, ideological or religious conceptions of
parents and pupils.

The schools organized by the public authorities offer, until the end of
obligatory scholarity, the choice between the teaching of one of the
recognized religions and non-denominational moral teaching.

§ 2. If a community, in its capacity as an organizing authority, wishes to delegate competency to one or several autonomous bodies, it can only do so by decree adopted by a two-third majority vote.

§ 3. Everyone has the right to education with the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. Access to education is free until the end of obligatory scholarity.

All pupils of school age have the right to moral or religious education at the community’s expense.

RockLee
05-01-06, 16:35
Well, in some schools you can choose either out of Religion or a substitute class.What strikes me is that you get graded on your own damn opinion !

Who gives somebody the right to grade a person on his beliefs or opinion?

Maciamo
05-01-06, 16:59
Well, in some schools you can choose either out of Religion or a substitute class.

I know that some schools propose classes of moral instead of religion. But in my case, I never had the choice, which is what I am complaining about.


What strikes me is that you get graded on your own damn opinion !

Who gives somebody the right to grade a person on his beliefs or opinion?

That is also something I see as against the freedom of thought and opinion, and thus against Human Rights and the country's Constitution.

Add to this the discrimination I suffered by some teachers (who taught both religion and another subject, such as history or French) who knew that I was an Atheist, and managed to give me lower grades just because of that. That was in highschool. In primary school, I would say there was some kind of intimidation if you refused to accept, or even questioned the Catholic dogma, or didn't go to catechism. They'd either say that you'd have to repeat your school year or that you'd go to hell (or similar bullshit). That's not something a responsible teacher tells children. :okashii:

I remember that when I was 6, we had to draw a path representing the 40 days of Lent, and colour them in green (good), orange (so-so), or red (bad) according to our self-assessed behaviour/kindness of the day. Of course, telling prayer to the Virgin Mary allowed you to get more green dots. :okashii:

Maciamo
09-09-15, 17:44
9 years after I wrote this article, I am glad to announce that the Belgian government finally realised that indeed compulsory Catholic brainwashing at school was a breach of human rights. The government changed the law in May this year allowing for the first time students (or rather their parents) to choose one of six possible courses (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Islamic studies, or a secular philosophy/morals course) or nothing at all. The last option being too popular, the government has since decided to replace this empty time by a sort of citizenship course.

What is revolutionary (for Belgium) is that this new law also applies to religious institutions, a very important factor considering that over 80% of Belgian schools are officially Catholic schools. It also introduces new paradoxes, as Catholic schools must now provide Islamic lessons for students who request them. It probably would have been better to get rid of the religion lessons altogether, or to give neutral morals lesson to all students, but some politicians were opposed to the concept of religion-free schools, or feared that all religion teachers who suddenly become unemployed. Unemployment is going to be an issue anyway, as it's hard to imagine devout Catholic teachers (including many priests or abbots) teaching other religions.

LeBrok
10-09-15, 03:28
9 years after I wrote this article, I am glad to announce that the Belgian government finally realised that indeed compulsory Catholic brainwashing at school was a breach of human rights. The government changed the law in May this year allowing for the first time students (or rather their parents) to choose one of six possible courses (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Islamic studies, or a secular philosophy/morals course) or nothing at all. The last option being too popular, the government has since decided to replace this empty time by a sort of citizenship course.

What is revolutionary (for Belgium) is that this new law also applies to religious institutions, a very important factor considering that over 80% of Belgian schools are officially Catholic schools. It also introduces new paradoxes, as Catholic schools must now provide Islamic lessons for students who request them. It probably would have been better to get rid of the religion lessons altogether, or to give neutral morals lesson to all students, but some politicians were opposed to the concept of religion-free schools, or feared that all religion teachers who suddenly become unemployed. Unemployment is going to be an issue anyway, as it's hard to imagine devout Catholic teachers (including many priests or abbots) teaching other religions.
I'm glad to see some progress in education. In Canada there is dual system, Catholic and Public, about half and half. With changing demographics these days I'm not sure how long Catholic schools will last in such numbers.

Fire Haired14
10-09-15, 06:05
9 years after I wrote this article, I am glad to announce that the Belgian government finally realised that indeed compulsory Catholic brainwashing at school was a breach of human rights. The government changed the law in May this year allowing for the first time students (or rather their parents) to choose one of six possible courses (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Islamic studies, or a secular philosophy/morals course) or nothing at all. The last option being too popular, the government has since decided to replace this empty time by a sort of citizenship course.

What is revolutionary (for Belgium) is that this new law also applies to religious institutions, a very important factor considering that over 80% of Belgian schools are officially Catholic schools. It also introduces new paradoxes, as Catholic schools must now provide Islamic lessons for students who request them. It probably would have been better to get rid of the religion lessons altogether, or to give neutral morals lesson to all students, but some politicians were opposed to the concept of religion-free schools, or feared that all religion teachers who suddenly become unemployed. Unemployment is going to be an issue anyway, as it's hard to imagine devout Catholic teachers (including many priests or abbots) teaching other religions.

Are Catholic schools in Belgium not private?

As you know, no one should be surprised this law was not passed in Belgium or any Western nation till 2015. Europe was officially Christian for over 1,000 years. Multiculturalism, multi-believes is a new thing. Countries ultimately come from families, everyone is supposed to be of the same blood and culture. Uniformity in Religion goes along with this.

Maciamo
10-09-15, 08:55
Are Catholic schools in Belgium not private?


Yes and no. They are independent from the government but 100% state subsidized.

Another problem is many cities until now was that poor Muslim immigrants chose public schools instead of Catholic schools (for obvious reasons), so that the social level of public schools was more often than not very low, and as a result the quality of teaching also dropped (since good teachers prefer to work at school with "easier" kids from "good families" as people would say). That situation was particularly annoying for middle to upper class Atheists whose only choice was basically a non-confessional public school with lots of lower class Muslims, or a Catholic school matching one's social level. Fortunately this problem has now disappeared as religion lessons are no longer compulsory in Catholic schools.

Maleth
10-09-15, 09:38
Yes and no. They are independent from the government but 100% state subsidized.

Another problem is many cities until now was that poor Muslim immigrants chose public schools instead of Catholic schools (for obvious reasons), .

In Malta the Muslim community have their own school (primary and secondary) mostly run by Maltese teachers and a headmistress (most of them Catholics). There are just over 30 Catholic Schools and nearly 30 private schools (apart from state schools). In the case of Religious schools, parents are fully aware of the curriculum, so religious lessons are 'not' imposed but a choice of parents. State and Private Schools are a different story. The problem is that Catholic schools seem to be best run, and non relgious or non Catholics would still prefer to put their children in these schools, so in this aspect Religious lessons will be kind of imposed (which does not make sense).

Goga
10-09-15, 12:27
As far as I know Belgian schools are one of the best schools in the world. In Georgia and Russia I attended the Communist schools and when my parents came to the Netherlands I went to a protestant school and even a protestant university.

I'm not even a Christian (, although I'm baptized in an Orthodox church), but my question is what is wrong with the Christian schools? I thought they are pretty nice and the children activities in those schools are great. Teachers are more helpful etc..


And yes, they should shut down the Islamic schools. Pupils teach there nothing but hatred!

grumpy nihilist
15-05-16, 22:58
:petrified:
I find this a bit hard to believe, but maybe I just idealized Belgium too much. And here I thought Slovakia was oh-so-conservative, with the option for parents to choose religion over ethics classes for their kids breeding endless controversy. But at least those classes aren't graded (afaik) and from what I've seen it's sometimes just a "free" class, when kids are allowed to do whatever they want (homeworks, etc).

I'm guessing this weird Belgian anomaly might have had something to do with Belgian revolution being somewhat religiously motivated and no big upheavals since then? If there's one beneficial thing the communists did, it was the atheization (and they still failed at it).


I remember that when I was 6, we had to draw a path representing the 40 days of Lent, and colour them in green (good), orange (so-so), or red (bad) according to our self-assessed behaviour/kindness of the day. Of course, telling prayer to the Virgin Mary allowed you to get more green dots.

I hope your path resembled the flag of USSR :D

Sorry for my first post being something of a necropost.

Minty
13-07-16, 12:37
The thread about creatonism banned in US schools made me realise that Belgian schools are among the most conservative and backward schools in the developed world in matters of freedom of religion.

In my (public) primary school, there were compulsory religion classes, which taught creationism. We had tests, and if we didn't write that the world was made by god in 7 days, and Adam and Eve were the first humans on Earth, we would fail the year.

During all my primary and secondary education, we had such compulsory classes of Catholic Christianity, with no other choice of moral or philosophical education. Well, at least we had classes of philosophy as part of the French class in the last year of secondary school (only, and still in addition to Catholic propaganda classes). That was a semi-private (i.e. state-funded, but independent) Catholic school but my primary school was not. It was 100% state-controlled.

I inquired to see if anything had changed, and it hasn't ! At least, there are talks of replacing religion classes by philosophy classes. But then, it isn't sure that this will happen, as my mother told me she was asked to sign a petition to keep compulsory religion classes in schools (which she of course refused).

I can't believe that in one of the most secular country in the world, where people are generally not very religious (apart from some elderly people and a specific minority), all schools still have religion classes. That's all the more shocking that the very religious USA banned such teachings in schools.

Compulsory religion classes of one particular religion, without neutral alternatives are a clear violation of the UN Charter of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html) (=> freedom of religion), as well as of the Belgian Constitution (http://www.fed-parl.be/constitution_uk.html).

I am surprised that this. I don't think I ever lived in a country here religion classes are compulsory at school. Where I was born in Malaysia, schools are segregated, the Muslims have their own schools. In Malay schools you have to attend Islamic religious classes only if you are Muslim, but in Chinese school you don't attend Chinese religion classes, and in English schools you don't attend Christian religion classes, except if it is a christian school. If a Muslim chooses to go to Chinese school or English school, by Malaysian government law, an Islamic class will be provided by the school for a Muslim.

Now I left Malaysia a long time ago so a lot of the things have changed, according to a recent article I found something disturbing.

Local sources said that Islamic proselytism activities take place in all schools of the country, with the exception of private schools, and do not even spare Catholic institutions. Several episodes also show a widespread prejudice against non-Muslim students. “Our fear – continues Sister Chew – comes from the fact that conversions take place, but the government denies this fact. Some Christian parents have found that their children are taught Islamic prayers. ”

According to the religious, these proselytizing activities are aimed at a “recovery” of the Islamic regions of Sabah and Sarawak, where Christians account for a good percentage of the population and where there are the most Catholic schools. Of the 448 Christian and missionary institutions in Malaysia, 130 are in Sarawak and 98 in Sabah….


In France, they have their secular rules.

In contemporary France, however, the conflict with the Roman Catholic Church is long dead, with the result that secularism has come to stand for something else: managing ethnic difference in society that is diametrically opposed to the community based approach advocated by Britain and the US (the two are usually lumped together by French defenders of secular principles as les Anglo-Saxons). According to this modern schema, secularism is about avoiding Anglo-Saxon style ghettos; coming together as citizens; and transcending narrow religious differences. This is why all conspicuous religion symbols are still banned in state schools. This is why the French state does not categorise people according to their ethnic origins when it comes to census data. Equally, this is why in the days following the Charlie-Hebdo attacks demonstrators flocked to the huge statue of Marianne on Place de République, a secular symbol of a secular sensibility that was evident in the way in which Marianne’s base was adorned with copies of Voltaire’s 1763 Treatise on Tolerance. - See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/martin-evans/what-french-secularism#sthash.GS3Y6WSg.dpuf

In Australia, unless you choose to go to a religious school, there is no compulsory religious lessons. Private christian and catholic schools are very expensive, students are mostly from a higher social class background.

The muslims have their own school, however recently a firebombing outside a mosque and an Islamic school in Perth has happened, and is considered a hate crime. There was hateful anti-Islam graffiti sprayed on a wall.

There have been a number of incidents involving mosques in WA in recent years. A pigs head was found at a University of WA mosque in December 2015, while a mosque in Rockingham was targeted with paint in 2014. The Thornlie Mosque was targeted with identical graffiti in 2014.

So in Australia's case, even the government let the Muslims have their own schools, there is still hate crimes, but then during 2010 to 2014 race may have played a role in some of violent attacks against Indian students that have threatened ties between the two countries.

Going further back in 2004 the firebombing of three Chinese restaurants in Perth marked an escalation in racist sentiment in the city. It seems that some people are just uncomfortable with an increase of ethnic minorities, whether this is to do with religion or culture or simply race.


Luxembourg used to have the same rules as you have stated, but they deleted it two years ago. Today Luxembourg has decided to copy France and has become a secular country but about 87 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. The remainder are Protestant (mainly Lutherans), Jews and Muslims.