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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

School’s out – again!

No wonder kids grow up dumb, can’t spell and use crap grammar. As if there weren’t enough days off for religious reasons, the Great and the Good now want to add more.

According to this Daily Mail story, festivals such as Eid, Ramadan and Diwali are an excuse for some local authorities to shut the schools for a day or more.

Staff won’t get the day off, because training days will be rearranged to coincide with these newly enforced holidays. But what of the staff who would wish to have time off for these festivals – Muslims, Sikhs and members of other variants of the Deluded Herd? Would they be forced to do their training days then? Seems unlikely.

Already, says the story, “Parents are legally entitled to take their children out of school for non-Christian festivals”.

Why? Why should they be allowed to take their children out of school for anything but emergencies, given that schooling is compulsory (something you may or may not agree with, but, for the moment, it’s there) for all kids?

Under this nonsense,

local authorities including Manchester, Oldham and Tower Hamlets in East London are granting schools permission to close for up to three days to cover holy days such as the Islamic festivals of Eid al Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

In guidance likely to be finalised in the summer, schools in some areas are being told they can consider closing for the day if 40 per cent of pupils are likely to be absent to observe a religious festival.

So the other 60 per cent of kids just get a day off? Or are the “holy” days to be “given back” by the pupils, who will have their summer holidays shortened? Doubt it.

More education lost, it seems – and all for religion. Yet another case for keeping it out of schools – indeed out of the public square – altogether. If kids are taken out of school for some religious festival, they should be deemed to be playing truant. If their parents are to blame, they should face the legal consequences.

Which may seem unfair, since Christians get time off for their bits of nonsense. However, that, while not being ideal, is historical, and our school system has been built around it.

If overnight we ceased to recognise the religious significance (for those who believe) of Easter and Christmas, those breaks from routine would no doubt continue (although it’s about time the Easter, or spring, break was held at the same time each year – say around the spring equinox).

So, given that we do need holidays at certain times of the year, what are now Christmas as a midwinter festival and Easter as a spring festival are as good times as any to celebrate and have some time off.

You may argue that two weeks or more at Christmas and Easter amount to too much time off for teachers and pupils, when they get six or seven weeks off in the summer, but that’s another argument.

The fact is that councils continue to arrange things around people’s superstitions, and there’s no telling where it will all end.

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