12 Jan 2014

More religion wanted in public schools in Australia

8:58 am on 12 January 2014

One of the members of a panel in Australia that will review the curriculum says more religion needs to be taught in public schools.

Former teacher Kevin Donnelly says Australian education has become too secular, and the federation's Judeo-Christian heritage should be better reflected in the curriculum.

The ABC reports the review was announced Friday by Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, after concerns the curriculum had become too left-leaning and was failing students.

Mr Donnelly says religion does not have enough of a presence in Australia's "very secular curriculum", and that it needs to be taught "more effectively".

"When you look at Parliaments around Australia - they all begin with the Lord's prayer. If you look at our constitution, the preamble is about God,'' he said.

"You can't airbrush that from history - it has to be recognised."

Mr Donnelly is also making the argument that Australian education has lurched to the "cultural left".

"The curriculum, as with most of the Western nations - England, America, New Zealand, Australia, over the last 20 or so years - they've adopted a curriculum that I call progressive, new age. On the left side, if you like," he said.

"I have argued in the past ... that we need to get the balance right in terms of Asia, Indigenous, sustainability - that's OK - but the pendulum has swung too far towards what I call a politically correct view.

"So we do need to emphasise the fact that we are a Western, liberal, democratic nation."

The ABC says the current curriculum was approved by federal, state and territory education ministers in December 2010. The content was finalised in 2011.

"There has been criticism of the national curriculum over a lengthy period of time," Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.

"What I want the curriculum to be is a robust and worthwhile document that embraces knowledge and doesn't try and be all things to all people.

"I also want the curriculum to celebrate Australia, and for students, when they have finished school, to know where we've come from as a nation."

The ABC reports the other member of the review panel is Professor Ken Wiltshire of the University of Queensland.