Teaching Hinduism in NSW public schools is in full swing

By: Madya Lila.

We are now half way through Term 1 and all of our classes have started. We are currently working with seven schools to deliver SRE programs: Burwood Girls, Sydney Boys, Sydney Girls, North Sydney Boys, Macarthur Girls, Evans, Fort Street.

Most of these schools only have SRE programs for Year 7, but two of them (Burwood and Fort Street) combine Years 7-10 into one class. Evans has an interesting SRE program format consisting of one hour per year level per school term. They run a full day seminar once a term where each year level has one hour of SRE instruction.

The feedback we’ve received from the teachers has been positive. Students are enjoying the classes, especially the stories and the Bhagavad Gita study. Because of the young age of many of the students, we also try to include craft and quizzes whenever possible. There are some constraints such as schools not allowing the use of paints in the classroom and sometimes the teachers do not get to spend a full 30 minutes with the students because they arrive late, etc. But all in all, it has been a very positive experience so far.

All of the teachers are really enjoying being able to share a little of their knowledge and passion for Hinduism.

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Religious freedom collides with anti-discrimination laws in Australia

By: Surinder Jain.

Religious freedom is fundamental to Australian identity said the Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison. And Australians voted in favor of anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT only recently. One would think that both are laudable achievements for Australia, but the future of religious freedom does not look so rosy.

A clash between Religious Freedom and Human Rights is brewing up.

Religious freedom right to propagate one’s belief permits Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other religions to run their own schools. Does this freedom means that these schools can admit gay students and have gay teachers imparting religious teachings to children when many believe admitting gay in their schools is against their faith.

This debate is heating up in Australia.

Religious freedom rights for an individual come in various parts. Right to belief is a right to believe in a certain religion and some/all the tenants that come with it. Right to practice a religion is a right to practice your religious rituals and actions coming from the belief. It also includes a right to propagate your beliefs either to your own constituency or to other non-believers.

Human rights on the other hand are also a set of rights for an individual and includes Right to Live, a Right to Freedom, a Right to Express and a number of other rights like anti-discrimination and so on.

Australia and most secular and theocratic countries permit Right to Belief. Australia also permits Right to Practice and a Right to Propagate religion without any state interference. Some theocratic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia place restrictions on Right to Practice in public and thus not allowing any temple or church unless it has been sanctioned by the government. Many countries in the middle east ban propagation of any religion other than the state sanctioned one.

Communist countries like China place restrictions on all religions. They frown upon all religious beliefs and control them by total control over appointment of clergy and allow only state permitted rituals to be practiced. Communist ideology and whims of the party are given far higher priority than either religious freedom or human rights.

A clash between the rights of one individual to protect their faith and institutions and the right of other individuals to a fair go requires a balancing act. While the Liberal party PM has vowed to protect religious freedom as integral to Australian identity, the opposition Labor party is considering an “appropriate” balance between the two.

When Right to Life clashes with Right to Practice, the human Right to live wins hands down. Thus I can not take away life or liberty of an individual even if I believe that my religious belief requires me to do so. My Right to Propagate my religion by imposing it on others will be OK in ISIS ruled countries but will be rejected in most other countries including Australia.

In a progressive country like Australia, Right to Propagate once religion has been well balanced with the Right to Practice one’s religion. Thus each religion is prohibited from imposing its belief on another religion. If I believe in a religion that does not have a personal God then I can not ask another religion to permit me to enforce my belief as part of their propagation. Thus if a religion does not believe in God, then s/he has no right to join a christian church/school and expect to teach his/her belief to the christian congregation or to students in a christian school. Religious practitioners can not invoke courts of law to enforce their Right to Propagate through the propagation machinery (churches, schools, congregations, Sunday mass, sermons, communications etc.) of other religions except in their own.

This is tampered both ways. No religion can frown upon the beliefs and practices of others as long as they are valid in law. No religion should propagate a belief that belittles the belief of another religion.

We can find the appropriate balance between right to propagation and anti-discrimination using the above well accepted principal. Thus all religions will respect the rights of LGBT and will not frown upon their practices in their religious propagation. At the same time, LGBT do not have an automatic right to use another religions propagation machinery to propagate their beliefs. Thus LGBT should not expect that they will be able to teach their belief in a religious school as much as a Hindu does not expect to have an automatic right give a Hindu sermon in a Christian church.

Number of Religious schools and number of students studying in religious schools is such a minority that it does not restrict the right of LGBT children to study or LGBT teachers to employment. These children have a very wide choice as to which school they go to study.  Teachers of LGBT persuasion are not constrained in applying for jobs to most schools and have a meaningful employment. And off course, there is nothing stopping people passionate about their gender beliefs to start their own special LGBT friendly schools.

Each new religion in Australia has to do the hard effort to establish their own schools, churches, temples and congregations. A newly arrived religion like Hinduism does not expect Christians or Jews to be forced to give up their resources like church or school for the propagation of Hinduism. Similarly, LGBT have to do their own hard yakka in establishing their own schools etc and not expect to get an easy ride on the resources of other religions in the name of anti-discrimination. And the Religions should not frown upon LGBT efforts to establish their own special LGBT friendly schools either.

By : Surinder Jain

 

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Survey of school going children’s parents on SRE

Hindu Council of Australia is conducting an SRE survey of parents who have school going children and live in NSW. Please fill out the form below if you have a school going child in NSW.

Name of the school where your children are studying?


Suburb of the school where your children are studying?


Year in which your children are studying?

Does the school offer Hinduism SRE classes?

YesNoNot Sure

Does your child attend the SRE class?

YesNoNot Sure

If your child does not attend SRE, why?

I dont want my child to attend any SREI want my child to attend but school said NoI dont know that SRE is being taughtThe school never told me about SREMy child does not like SRE classesAlternative to SRE is more attractiveOther

Would you like to be informed when Hinduism SRE is offered at your school?

YesNo

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SRE Teacher Training 2019 starting in a big way

By : Madya Lila.

It’s great to see Hindu Council of Australia has finally been added to the Department of Education’s web page https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics/approved-sre-providers#letterH as a provider of Hinduism teachers to state schools for teaching Hinduism.

We held a very successful training day on Saturday and 15 new volunteer teachers are now trained and ready to go into schools to teach SRE next year.  

 

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An auspicious beginning of first SRE Hinduism class by Hindu Council

By : Madya Lila.

On the auspicious occasion of Dusshera, Hindu Council of Australia began its first Hindu Special Religious Education (SRE) program at Sydney Girls High School. Genedine Sionillo, a volunteer teacher from the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga led the class which was very well received by all the students. They especially enjoyed Genedine’s introduction to Bhagavad Gita. The SRE classes at Sydney Girls High School will continue each Friday for the remainder of the school term.

What is SRE?

Special religious education (SRE) is the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion delivered by authorised representatives of that persuasion. It is the distinctive religious tenets and beliefs of the home and family, provided by the churches and other religious groups for children of parents expressing the desire that they receive such teaching.

The NSW Government, through legislation and related policy, recognises the diversity of Australian society and supports parental choice in educating children about their faith. The delivery of Special Religious Education (SRE) is managed by religious persuasions, which are approved as SRE providers by the Department of Education.

SRE is mandated by the Education Act (1990) and gives parents the choice to have children formed in the faith of their family. Section 32 of the Education Act says that ‘In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.’

The provision of SRE is not funded by government.

The Hindu Council of Australia is registered as an authorised provider of SRE with the NSW Department of Education.

In 2019, HCA will provide Hindu SRE classes in a further six high schools in the Sydney area and will continue to expand the program over the coming years.

If you would like to volunteer to teach Hindu SRE classes, or if you would like to sponsor the cost of teaching materials please contact us at sre@hinducouncil.com.au   

 

By Veena.svg: Sreejithk2000derivative work: Gringer (talk) – Veena.svg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11886656

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HCA to Teach Hinduism in NSW Schools

Hindu Council of Australia has been approved by the Minister of Education to teach Hinduism as an SRE (Special Reigious Education) in NSW state schools. The education is provided on a voluntary basis i.e. the department does not pay any thing and Hindu Council has to provide volunteer teachers, their training and teaching material. 

You can find more information about it at Hindu Council web site’s SRE page.

If you would like to help you can contact us here.

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Tributes to Prof Raja Jayraman, former Vice President

Prof Raja Jayraman is remembered by us all. He did so much work for Hindu education in schools and for promoting interfaith harmony in Australia as Vice President of Hindu Council of Australia. Tributes are still pouring in.

Surinder Jain

Professor Raja Jayaraman left his mortal body on last Thursday; his funeral will be at 2 pm on Monday, June 4, at Lotus Pavilion, Macquarie Crematorium, Delhi Road
Nihal Agar
 
He will be missed and at our meeting of RfP we will remember him with a minute silence led by Gayatripana. May his memory be a blessing.
Josie
 
Deeply sad to hear the news about Raja ji. He will be missed for his enthusiasm , witty comment and thorough knowledge on many aspects . 

Sanjeev Bhakri

Sad to hear that the towering Personality Raja Jayramanji passed away , but relieved that this fighter, kept fighting till the end, true to his usual grit. 
I would say that I was one of the fortunates to have interacted with this Committed Hindu & hope to live and imbibe a fraction of his commitment towards social & Dharmic cause.
HSS ( Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh)prays the almighty to provide sadgati to this wonderful aatma. 
We hope that the family can recover from this great loss. 
Om Shanti Shanti Shantih 
Ramyavaran
 
Really sorry to hear the death of Raja ji. 

I used to call him Good Jayaraman. He was so humble, polite, receptive and good listener. 
May God bless him to Rest in Peace 
Jay Raman
 

Saddened to hear  Revered Sri Raja Jayaraman ji passing away. it  is a great loss to us all and the Hindu community at large.  May Bhagwan GauriShankar ji bestow peace to the departed Soul of revered Rajaji and give strength to the family to bear this great loss.

Om Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvaarukamiva Bandanaan-Mrityormuksheeya Maamritat
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih 
Radha Krishna Sharma
 
Very sad to learn about Raja jis passing away. He was a truely committed  to social work.

It was a great pleasure and honour to work with him for many years. 
Soul never dies, only changes body. May he travel to next journey peacefully.
I sadly will miss him.
Tara 
 

Very sorry to hear about the passing away of Dr Jayaraman ji. May God bestow peace to the departed soul.

Vijai Singhal

Very sorry to hear about Raja ji. May his soul rest in peace.
Vikas Chopra
 
It’s really sad and hard to believe that Prof Raja jayraman ji not with us. I’m with Rajajis family at this hour of time. May god give solace to the departed soul. 
Chandrakant Kulkarni 
 
Very sad to know that Dr Raja ji is left us. I  am deeply sad that I couldn’t meet him in last few weeks. I am not in Sydney for last month and will be back on 10th so I am not be able to with you all at this moment of sorrow.
Dr Raja ji will always be an inspiration to us all the time.
I pray for him and convey my deepest condolences 
Bhagwat Chauhan
 
Very sad to hear. Om Shanthi.
Sai Pravastu
hari om 
 
very sad to hear. Om shanthi shanthi shanthi 
Manju Nath
 
Sorry to hear that. RIP.
Ashwani Jain
 

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Severe shortage of Hindu SRE teachers in NSW schools

NSW

Currently there is an estimated short fall of about a 1,000 Hindu Special Religious Education teachers in NSW.

2017 Statistics

In the enrollment year 2107, there were about 20,000 Hindu students in NSW out of a total of 755,000 student in 2,160 schools, making 2.64% of all students. Buddhists had about 15,000 and Muslims about 50,000 while Sikhs and Jains together had only just over 2,300 students enrolled in public schools.

Of the 2,160 schools, 1,600 were Primary schools and about 400 Secondary schools, rest being others. About 140 Primary schools out of 1,600 have six or more Hindu students, many having more than 200 students. Of 400 secondary schools, about 140 have more than six students with some having numbers in hundreds.

Schools with more than 200 Hindu students  :

Name Type postcode operational_directorate principal_network Total Studen

ts

Number of Hindu Students % Hindus
Westmead Public School Primary School 2145 Macquarie Park Holroyd 1441 920 64
Girraween Public School Primary School 2145 Macquarie Park Parramatta 1134 777 69
Parramatta Public School Primary School 2150 Macquarie Park Parramatta 910 416 46
Matthew Pearce Public School Primary School 2153 Macquarie Park The Hills 1395 341 24
Parramatta High School Secondary School 2150 Macquarie Park Parramatta 858 320 37
Blacktown South Public School Primary School 2148 Macquarie Park Nirimba 1007 306 30
Rosehill Public School Primary School 2142 Macquarie Park Parramatta 664 304 46
Girraween High School Secondary School 2145 Macquarie Park Parramatta 759 297 39
Macarthur Girls High School Secondary School 2150 Macquarie Park Parramatta 1013 297 29
Wentworthville Public School Primary School 2145 Macquarie Park Holroyd 524 293 56
Darcy Road Public School Primary School 2145 Macquarie Park Holroyd 654 284 43
Penrith High School Secondary School 2750 Macquarie Park Penrith 930 274 29
Cherrybrook Technology High School Secondary School 2126 Macquarie Park Dural 1930 250 13
Baulkham Hills High School Secondary School 2153 Macquarie Park The Hills 1213 229 19
Quakers Hill Public School Primary School 2763 Macquarie Park The Hills 956 223 23
Riverbank Public School Primary School 2769 Macquarie Park The Hills 811 221 27
Macquarie Fields High School Secondary School 2564 Ultimo Glenfield 1109 205 18

There are no reliable numbers available as to how many of these schools and students are actually getting Hindu SRE education. But it is estimated that with a maximum class size of 20, about 1,200 Hindu SRE teachers are needed where as only about two hundred teachers have been trained so far by four SRE providers namely, VHP, Chinmaya Mission, Saiva Manram and J.E.T.

Currently there is a short fall of about a 1,000 Hindu SRE teachers in NSW.

(source: Based on Department of Education NSW and on Hindu Council’s research)

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State of Teaching Hinduism in NSW Australia

By Vijai Singhal and Surinder Jain (Hindu Council of Australia) 1st March 2018

Apart from various temples and organizations running their own religious and scripture classes, Hinduism is being taught in primary and secondary Schools.

At Primary School level (SRE) – An hour of class time is allowed in state schools per week to teach about religion. The subject is called Special religious Education (SRE). In the state of NSW, this SRE education is provided in some schools by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and in some others by Chinmaya Mission. Saiava Manram provides SRE of Saiva Manram faith in some of the Tamil schools. In total about 70-80 schools out of 2200 Primary State schools in NSW have Hinduism SRE teachers. Each of the education providers (e.g. VHP, Chinmaya, Saiva) have their own Syllabus and their own teaching material.

From 2018, the department has insisted that ” a formal syllabus, vetting of teachers identity, working with children check, training of teachers, a formal complain making and handling mechanism are put in place and made mandatory “. Both VHP and Chinmaya Mission have developed their own syllabus and teaching material. They are required to put up the syllabus on their web sites, VHP syllabus for years 1 to 6 is at http://vhp.org.au/content/hindu-scripture-classes and Chinmaya mission for years K-10 is at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1JV8vg1-bK3rIZzotDHNL3Beu7kfathKi.

Hindus in Australia need to develop a common syllabus for teaching Hinduism as SRE in primary schools.

The department of education provides the class room full of students and it is up to SRE providers (religious organizations) to provide teachers, teaching material etc. The department does not provide any wages or training to these teachers.  Almost all of the teachers are working on voluntary basis paying for their own travel expenses and teaching material like photo copying etc.

Hindu in Australia need to find a way to fund these providers and the teachers.

At Secondary Education level – in NSW we have 2 Unit Study of Religions course in Secondary schools. Hindu Council was consulted in framing the original syllabus. This course covers 5 major religions, Hinduism is one of them. The course material is prepared by Cambridge University Press. We have seen lots of misrepresentation about Hinduism in that material. In last 2-3 years HCA have had discussions with Cambridge Uni Press officials to make changes to the material. With great difficulty HCA could achieve some changes but they pointed out to us that they have to follow the syllabus in preparing the material. e.g. in this, the main emphasis is always linked with the Hindu caste System –  like Hindu Ethics according to different castes.

Hindus in Australia need to develop their own authoritative teaching texts on Hinduism.

The Federal Govt had set up ACARA – Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority to set common syllabus for all different Australian States. At the moment all Sates follow their own syllabi. Prof Jayaraman and Vijai Singhal from HCA had attended some of the meetings of ACARA about teaching of religion. Religion is not going to be a separate subject like the NSW “Study of Religions” subject but is a part of teaching of History.

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NSW Govt gets serious about Religious education

NSW state government had ordered a review of Special Religious Education(SRE) in 2015 and the report was received in 2017. Hindu scriptures are taught to students in schools by VHP and Chinmaya Mission under this special scheme. As a part of implementing many of these recommendations, an All Faith SRE (AFSRE) committee was formed. This committee represents different faiths including Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Bahai and Buddhist among others.

Another recommendation to have a formal syllabus, vetting of teachers identity, working with children check, training of teachers, a formal complain making and handling mechanism are being put in place and being made mandatory from this year. Two Hindu organizations Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Chinmaya Mission are both well on their way in complying with these new rules. AFSRE is providing guidance and hand holding to both of them. Both of them have taken the assistance of BBF process to comply with these guidelines.

Saiva Manaram is also registered as an SRE for providing education on Saiva Manram faith to school children and is also on its way to comply with the new rules.  As of this year, SRE’s who do not comply with the new process will not be allowed to teach in schools. Hindu teachers have prepared themselves well and are not affected. Hindu teachers will continue to teach in schools. AFSRE chair, thanked Hindu Council of Australia for having brought together the Hindu SRE providers to understand and fit in with the changes taking place.

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