Full interview: religion in schools

Sarah Longbottom (Paul Henry)
Sarah Longbottom (Paul Henry)

We're on the home stretch to Easter Weekend, a time for chocolate and holidaying.

But have you ever asked yourself whether your kids actually understand what Easter means, and if they don't -- should they?

Educator Sarah Longbottom believes New Zealand has an issue with the way it approaches religious education in schools.

"It comes down to who is teaching it -- is it an expert teacher, or is it somebody from a religious group outside of the school that is sending in a volunteer teacher?" she says.

Speaking to the Paul Henry programme this morning, Ms Longbottom said the comfort and human rights of all children need to be considered when broaching the topic of religion.

"You run into a whole raft of issues when you have to represent the human rights of many, many different kids within your classroom and within your school."

She says while the education sector needs to acknowledge the origin of Easter and other Christian holidays, it can't be to the detriment of other students.

"I mean yes, Easter exists, but there is also the argument that almost 50 percent of New Zealand identifies as Christian -- which means that 50 percent don't.

"It is a real contentious issue, because you have the [Education] Act, which basically states how you're allowed to teach religion in schools, but then you have the Human Rights Act -- where you are unable to provide an environment that someone feels unsafe or excluded."

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