Kindergarten students across NSW will now be able to opt out of scripture classes for lessons in ethics.
The four and five-year-old students will look at ethical issues appropriate to their age group, such as “Is it OK to dob on a friend” and “Can you share someone’s secret?”.
Ethics, a subject previously only offered to students from Years 1-6 who opted out of religion, aims to discuss and teach basic morals to children without any religious undertones, providing a secular education. It is currently offered exclusively in NSW primary schools, with 25 per cent of students preferring these lessons to religion classes.
There are already 10,000 kindergarten students signed up for the new classes and organisers are looking for over 4000 volunteers to teach them.
Non-profit charity organisation Primary Ethics relies on volunteers and funding to keep the statewide program going as it receives no support from the government.
The Newsroom spoke to a number of people who supported the moves to expand ethics classes to younger children.
Dominika Lipka, 18, from Doonside, saw it as a positive learning experience for kids. “I think it is needed, because everyone has some morals and society is made up of ethics really,” she said. “So why not teach them from a young age?”
Michael Stevens, 19, from Hassal Grove, took a more aggressive stance of support. “I strongly support that, because I don’t believe in religion at all and bringing a child into religion is against freedom, in my opinion,” he said.
Craig Jansson, 18, from Blacktown, said he did not want religion in school at all. “It should completely replace religion at schools… so every child has the same understanding of the basic moral and ethics,” he said.
“If parents wish for their children to learn about a religion, it should be be done out side of school.”
People interested in volunteering to be an ethics teacher must go through a police check and must have some relevant degree or work with young people. See Primary Ethics. – Brian Ennew