School Transport scheme discriminates against atheists
Atheist Ireland has sent a Submission to the UN Human Rights committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We raised the issue of religious discrimination in the School Transport scheme at second level.
Atheists, humanists and secularists are discriminated against in the School Transport scheme as the department of Education only support students from minority religious backgrounds who wish to attend minority religious schools. They don’t support non-religious minorities who on the basis of conscience wish to send their cildren to Educate Together schools.
You can find our Submission to the UN here.
Here is the Section from our Submission to the UN.
7. Article 2, Article 18 — Post Primary School Transport scheme
- Question: Will the State Party commit to extending the school transport scheme so that non religious families can access Educate Together schools?
The post primary school transport scheme is confined to supporting students who, for reasons of their religious ethos, choose to attend their nearest minority religion denominational school.
It is the policy of the Department of Education to only support students from minority religious backgrounds who wish to attend the following schools. There are 22 Church of Ireland schools, 2 Quaker schools, 1 Jewish school, 1 Methodist school, and 1 Presbyterian school.
The scheme does not apply to non religious minorities who would choose to attend an Educate Together post primary school. There are now 17 Educate Together second level schools in the country and they are seen as the best option by non religious families on the grounds of conscience. Denominational schools and the majority of ETB multi-denominational and interdenominational schools operate with a religious ethos and many atheist and humanist parents object to them on the grounds of conscience.
The Department of Education states that:
“The Post-primary school transport scheme supports the transport to and from school of children who live more than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest post-primary education centre/school, subject to the following limited exceptions relating to ethos and language: Children who, for reasons of their religious ethos, choose to attend their nearest minority religion denominational school may be eligible for school transport to that school, even if it is not their nearest school.”