Progress on teaching Religious Education in Victoria

A meeting was held today between representatives of VCAA of the education department and GRE Education Multi-faith collaboration team. The meeting was attended by Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews and some educationists.

The department explained their framework for developing or changing curriculum for students from F-10. Faith communities will be involved to develop GRE classroom & teacher resources that help students gain a respectful understanding of the multicultural/multi-faith diversity of the Victorian community and the diversity of their fellow students that builds toward an inclusive, engaged student classroom, ie a culture of respect. The idea that faith leaders could augment the classroom instruction was mentioned as part of the choices a local school could make thru the resources provided helping to engage the local community. GRE will lead to a respectful understanding of children who come from the many faiths within the Victorian community.

The faith community accepted the framework as adequate for improving the teaching about all different faiths to students.

Surinder Jain, pointed out that Hindus do not have any schools in Australia and GRE is the only place where Hindu students can learn about Hinduism in a school setting. Since there are no Hindu schools, there is no common, easily useable and acceptable material about Hinduism available for use. He also explained that many books on Hinduism have been written by non-Hindus and are based on colonial interpretation of Hinduism. He emphasized that Students should be taught Australian Hindu lived experience.

The issues of teaching current matters like education on Sacred Swastika and India as an important trade partner, were also raised.

The meeting was also attended by Geeta Devi from Victoria who had been teaching SRE in schools before it was banned.

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