A UCD graduate is at the core of a new organisation which is set to enter the debate on the admissions policy of the primary school system in Ireland.
Education Equality has been formed to challenge religious discrimination in State-funded schools. It is opposed to section 7 (3) c of the Equal Status Act 2000, which permits a school belonging to a particular religious denomination to discriminate on admissions on the basis of maintaining their school’s ethos. As the majority of primary schools are Catholic, the group claims that it is unfair on children from other religious or non-religious backgrounds.
Education Equality formed from a group of people who began meeting during the summer, and now consists of over 80 members, which include those who “belong to various religions and various non-religious belief systems, as well as others who identify themselves of simply not having religion.” The organisation has stressed that it is “label free” and “not aligned with any religious or non-religious group or political party.”
April Duff, a UCD law graduate, is the chairperson of the organisation, and is tasked with overseeing the running of Education Equality. At the moment she is attempting to organise meetings with government officials, while planning for the official launch of the group on Saturday 12th December 2015 at 11a.m. in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2. She also said that said that she was coordinating a legal team which is “looking into the legality of various aspects of the education system,” while a constitutional challenge is being considered.
Duff first became aware of the issue when she was researching the constitutionality of the current system for a law module, and credits her interest in human rights and constitutional law with first sparking her interest in the issue.
She said that the UCD School of Law had been very supportive of the initiative, in particular Suzanne Egan, who lectures in International and European Human Rights Law, who advised her “from [her] initial research through to the founding of Education Equality and its work since then.” Duff stated that “a number of UCD staff are also members of Education Equality and have been very supportive,” along with a number of UCD students have also joined.
The issue of religion and school admissions has proved to be contentious, and there is support to keep the system the way it is; there is no sign that the debate will end in the near future. More information about the group is available on their Facebook and Twitter pages (@Edu_Equal). Interested students can also contact April directly at email@example.com.
- By Cian Carton, News Editor