From September 2024, religion and morality classes could gradually disappear from the timetables of French-speaking schools, in favour of additional education in philosophy and citizenship, Le Soir reports on Saturday. The Wallonia-Brussels Federation (FWB) is submitting the proposal for consultation with unions and other local authorities.
French-speaking Minister of Education Caroline Désir put forward three possible scenarios for alternative education, first proposed in a document adopted on Christmas Eve last year and presented before officials on Friday.
The first proposal is to completely abolish classes in religion and morality in favour of two hours of education in philosophy and citizenship. A second scenario would see the inclusion of two hours of education in philosophy and citizenship and, optionally, one hour of education in philosophy and citizenship or religion and morals.
The third scenario includes two hours of education in philosophy and citizenship for everyone and one hour of religion and morality as an option. According to Le Soir, the FWB is leaning toward the third option.
In practice, this would mean that the timetable (28 periods in primary, 30-34 in secondary) would then include two hours of education in philosophy and citizenship, which would be compulsory for all students. Schools would then add another hour to the timetable, at the request of families, for the teaching of one of the five recognised religions in Belgium (Catholic, Islamic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish), or secular morality.
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It is still not clear how this “optional” hour of extra study will fit into the school day, but could go into lunchtime or at the end of the day. French-speaking authorities have excluded the possibility of putting the classes at noon or on Saturdays.
Only students attending state schools would be concerned, while students of confessional schools can continue in the existing format, namely, two hours of religious education and citizenship classes taught during human sciences classes.