Government wants to place teachers on in-service religion training
The joint committee of the government and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) wants to direct teachers to in-service training in religious education. This is expected to improve the quality and popularity of religious education as an elective, and has found support from a government committee.
Ilmo Au, head of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior, said that taking an elective in religious education has not been very popular up to now.
She said: "According to last year's data, religious education was taught in a little more than 70 general education schools. Overall, there are around 500 general education schools in Estonia."
The joint government-EELK committee as a result has proposed to the universities to organize in-service training for teachers, in the religion field.
"There are also teachers of other subjects - social studies, history, literature - who would like to make this field clearer. It is based on the principle of integration of different subjects. students choose it," a spokesperson for the home ministry said.
Roland Karo, Head of the Faculty of Religion at the University of Tartu, pointed out that contact with different cultures and religions, and not just Lutheranism or Christianity more broadly, is becoming more frequent in Estonia. In this way, everyone would benefit from basic knowledge of at least five major world religions.
"Unfortunately, due to the Soviet occupation and its effects, many generations still have a relatively thin basic knowledge in the field of religion. We are even talking about in general history lessons where religious issues inevitably arise. It would be good if most of our teachers were also equipped with basic tools in this field," Karo said.
At the same time, Karo warned that religious education should not favor a particular religion or denomination. Karo does not see this threat at the moment, however, in any case.
"While for many people it may light up that the church is on this committee, being a member of the Lutheran church itself, my perception is that it is still in the church's sincere interest to expand people's knowledge in this area," the head of the university's theology department said.
Although the idea is good, Karo said that he acknowledges that there may be few people interested. "Somehow the teachers should be motivated and just given the time to be able to improve themselves in such directions. Give us an interested teacher and we will put together an individual program," he said.
No extra money will be given for training. The costs must be covered by school leaders from existing training grants.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino