Hibernia College / Dail question from Clare Daly TD

Clare Daly, Socialist Party TD Dublin North asked a Dail question on Hibernia College and the extreme offence that their religion module caused in the atheist community.


Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha

To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will inquire with the HigherEducation and Training Awards Council if, and if so, the reason, it approved the religion module in the higher diploma in arts in primary education in a college (details supplied) which contained statements that have caused extreme offence in the atheist community; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Clare Daly.

Hibernia College

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 13th March, 2012.

Reference Number: 14128/12


Minister Ruairí Quinn

I am aware of the issue that the Deputy has raised. The content of course curricula in higher education institutes is a matter for the providers themselves. I understand that the college in question has met with representatives of Atheist Ireland in recent days to discuss the issues raised by the Deputy.

HETAC validates programmes of education and training leading to its awards. As part of the validation process, a panel examines and satisfies itself of the programme content. Programmes are subject to on-going quality assurance reviews.

In relation to the primary school curriculum, while religion is recognised as a curricular area, the content of the religious curriculum is a matter for the patron of each school. As the Deputy is aware, the vast majority of primary schools in Ireland have religious patronage, and this is reflected in the course content and teaching practice placements provided in programmes of primary initial teacher education.  The aim of these programmes is to provide the school system with an adequate number of teachers who have the necessary qualifications, skills and knowledge to teach the prescribed curriculum in all settings.

All teacher education programmes in Ireland that lead to registration must have current professional accreditation, which is the statutory responsibility of the Teaching Council. Professional accreditation is a judgement as to whether a programme prepares one for entry into the profession. In accordance with Section 38 of the Teaching Council Act 2001, the Council is empowered to review and professionally accredit programmes of initial teacher education and procedures are in place for this purpose. Accordingly, I have brought the matter to the attention of the Council for its consideration and I understandthat it is making contact with the college concerned.


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