Resolution on the place of religion in schools

published 25 July 2007 updated 31 March 2017

The fifth World Congress of the Education International, meeting in Berlin from 22 to 26 July 2007

1. observing with concern the increase in dogmatism and extremism of all kinds, sources of conflict denying the absolute value of the human person in his or her universality;

2. Observing that the school curriculum is becoming an issue as far as many religious believers are concerned: witness the attacks on the teaching of Darwinism with regard to the theory of evolution, in the United States and Europe;

3. recalling in this respect that the national science academies of 67 countries have signed a call to alert parents and teachers;

4. recalling that the EI organised a meeting in Marrakech in May 2006 on education and universal values, at which the causes of extremism were analysed;

5. reaffirming the fundamental principle of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, i.e. freedom of conscience, freedom to choose one's religion, or to choose not to have one;

6. reaffirming its unshakeable dedication to freedom of expression (International Pact on Civil and Political Rights);

7. reaffirming that the mission of the State-run school is to provide an education of quality for everyone, without discrimination as regards religion or belief, with a view to the common good;

8. considering that education in citizenship demands the exercise of a critical mind to forge a clear and independent judgement;

9. considering the distinction between the teaching of the history of religions and religious education itself, based on dogma;

Calls upon the EI:

10. to reaffirm that public education must remain a place for teaching, the transmission of knowledge and the training and exercise of a critical mind;

11. to state a position in favour of the teaching of the history of religions, essential for culture, inter-cultural dialogue and the training of the citizen;

12. to support its affiliated trade unions in their struggle against the growing influence of the role of religions in school, expressed in the introduction of courses in religion and the subordination of the content or the very existence of academic disciplines to religious dogmas and discrimination against behaviour not conforming to their standards;

13. to recognise the role of trade unions in the inter-cultural dialogue, as vectors of recognition of cultural diversity and as bearers of universal values based on respect for the human person whatever he or she may be.