The Authorities has been criticised for its “sluggish” progress in offering entry to multi-denominational training as new figures present Catholic colleges account for 89 per cent of main colleges.
The Programme for Authorities commits to enhancing parental selection by assembly a goal of delivering 400 multi-denominational main colleges by 2030.
Nevertheless, new figures present there are 164 multi-denominational colleges in contrast with 2,750 Catholic main colleges.
A Division of Schooling report on enrolment for the 2021/22 faculty yr states that multi-denominational colleges are the quickest rising sector, with the variety of such colleges up 28 since 2018, whereas the variety of Catholic colleges is down by 26 over the identical time frame.
“These clear tendencies in class ethos are a results of the closure of small colleges with declining enrolments and the amalgamation of faculties in shut proximity to one another, in addition to the opening of latest multi-denominational colleges in response to parental selection,” the report states.
Nevertheless, the Irish Human Rights Fee’s (IHREC) mentioned it has requested the United Nations to instantly ask the State to account for its “sluggish progress on the divestment of patronage from Catholic colleges”.
Advanced course of
Sinéad Gibney, IHREC’s chief commissioner, mentioned that whereas divestment of patronage is a posh course of, there was vital street but to journey to realize the Authorities’s goal.
“All through our work round training, we’ve got constantly emphasised the necessity for fairness of entry, parental selection and human rights ideas in respect of pluralism, inclusivity and assembly the wants and dignity of youngsters. These human proper ideas should be the State’s benchmark in relation to training.”
In an announcement, the division mentioned 400 multi-denominational main colleges by 2030 remained the Authorities’s goal.
It mentioned nearly 100 new main and post-primary have been established since 2011 with a multi-denominational ethos.
An extra 20 new multi-denominational main colleges have been established underneath the patronage divestment course of and a more moderen “reconfiguration” course of.
4 years in the past the division requested Schooling and Coaching Boards to establish pilot areas the place there was prone to be unmet demand for multi-denominational training and to conduct surveys of pre-school mother and father in these areas.
The division has refused to launch the findings of those surveys to The Irish Instances underneath the Freedom of Info Act.
The division mentioned it has been participating with representatives of Catholic bishops – the Irish Episcopal Convention – with a view to creating an agreed strategy to the following part of the reconfiguration course of.
“Publication of the surveys has been deferred whereas this course of is underway,” the division mentioned.
A spokesman for the Irish Episcopal Convention mentioned bishops had been “proactively participating” in relation to reconfiguration of patronage. “Bishops are supportive of an academic panorama which displays the fact of the more and more numerous society in our nation,” a spokesman mentioned.“A real plurality of patronage throughout the nation ought to guarantee parental selection while enabling patrons to be true to their very own ethos and attribute spirit.”
He added that any transfer to divest should contain a significant engagement at native stage, supported by the Division of Schooling, with mother and father, academics and the broader parish communities served by present Catholic colleges.