Jane Donnelly and I met today with Hibernia College to discuss the course notes that made untrue statements about atheism and atheists. The meeting was very productive. The relevant course notes have been removed, and I am preparing an initial one-hour introductory lesson for Hibernia College on atheism and nonreligious ethics.
After that, Atheist Ireland will discuss with Hibernia College how we can make a more comprehensive contribution towards developing a more pluralist religion and ethics curriculum. Hibernia College will reassure students about its existing commitment to encourage them to give feedback about any concerns they have about the course.
Here is a more complete report of the meeting:
Atheist Ireland chairperson Michael Nugent and Education Policy Officer Jane Donnelly met today with Dr. Nicholas Breakwell, Hibernia College’s VP for Academic Affairs and Knowledge Management and Dr. Siobhan Cahillane-McGovern, Hibernia College’s Course Director for its Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education.
The meeting was very productive. Atheist Ireland is very happy with Hibernia College’s commitment to developing a pluralist curriculum and we will be working with Hibernia College to assist them in this outcome.
Hibernia College has explained to us the context in which the religious education element of its course has evolved. We are happy that Hibernia College did not intentionally include the sections that we found to be inaccurate about atheism and atheists.
Hibernia College has removed the sections of the course notes that we have raised concerns about.
Michael Nugent will initially prepare a one-hour introductory lesson for Hibernia College on atheism and nonreligious ethics, in conjunction with the College’s technological and presentation team.
After that, we will discuss with Hibernia College how we can make a more comprehensive contribution towards developing a more pluralist religion and ethics curriculum, that is consistent with the human right of all students to freedom of conscience regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs.
Hibernia College will continue to offer, as a private business institution, whatever courses and qualifications its students require in order to be able to work as primary teachers in Ireland.
The Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education has a religious curriculum module that covers what the State requires for a teacher to to teach religion in any primary school, and a module that covers what the Roman Catholic church requires for a teacher to teach in Roman Catholic schools. Hibernia College will review these existing two modules to ensure that the curriculum module contains everything as required by the primary school curriculum.
In the medium term, Hibernia College will examine offering two separate qualifications, with the State curriculum requirements for teaching religion in any primary school remaining part of its overall Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education, and the Roman Catholic Church requirements for teaching in Roman Catholic schools being offered as a separate qualification.
Hibernia College will reassure students about its existing commitment to encourage them to give feedback about any concerns they have about the course.