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Title: Religious education in state schools and children's rights : an empirical study
Author: Jawoniyi, O. O.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 0173
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2012
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The issue of whether and how religion should be taught in state funded schools in democratic societies remains crucially important. Given the sustained presence of religion in the public sphere, there is need for children to possess knowledge and understanding of the role of religion in today's world. It is, however, crucially important that children are safeguarded from being subjected to indoctrination through religious education (RE) programmes offered in schools. Using international human rights law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a canon, this thesis examines whether or not RE can be delivered in state funded schools in such a fashion that children's rights and interdependent parental rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. It also scrutinises the degree to which RE can, if at all, engender the actualization of the aims of liberal education articulated in the UNCRC. Using a two-fold qualitative methodological paradigms (i.e. case study and hermeneutic phenomenology) and four ethnographic data collection methods (i.e. observations, interviews, focus groups and documentary and artefacts analyses), qualitative data was collected in two contrasting schools (i.e. one grant-maintained integrated secondary and one Roman Catholic Diocesan voluntary grammar) in Belfast Northern Ireland. Findings highlight that through the deployment of a variety of RE pedagogical approaches, the body of knowledge (of religious and non-religious/philosophical nature) was conveyed to children pluralistically, critically and objectively, without indoctrination. Further, this study draws attention to the fact that the teaching of RE in a pluralistic fashion conceivably facilitates children's development of mutual respect for, and mutual understanding of, one another. It also suggests that the teaching of RE in a critical and objective fashion, without indoctrination, can promote the development of children's critical thinking, rational autonomy and the right of the child to an open future. In these respects, this study suggests that RE can be taught not only in a fashion that respects, protects and fulfils children's and parents' rights, but also in a manner which engenders the actualization of the aims of liberal education articulated in the UNCRC. This research, therefore, seeks to contribute to our understanding of: (i) the dialectical relationships between religious education and children's rights; and (ii) the issue of whether and how religion should be taught in state funded schools.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available