Education Minister: ‘I welcome debate on reforming religion lessons in schools’

A poll suggests most people want to see changes, but the political clout might not be there to make it happen any time soon.

File photo of tables & chairs in a classroom / Credit: iStock

Finland’s Education Minister Li Andersson (Left) says she is “delighted” about a debate on reforming religion lessons in schools.

Her comments come after a poll by public broadcaster Yle finds that 70% of people are in favour of dropping compulsory classroom lessons on religion or ethics, and instead introducing a more broad non-denominational class that teaches pupils about different world religions instead.

“The greatest challenge of combining the subjects is how to adequately address the content of both important subjects, and the needs of religious students to learn about their own and other religions” Andersson writes on Twitter.

At present, students in primary and secondary schools must take a religious education class. Pupils who are not Lutheran have a right education about their own religion; while children with no religious affiliation can choose to take a religion or an ethics class.

Andersson however, notes that any reforms would require sufficient political support, and such changes are not part of the government’s policy programme.

“The concrete reform step that I hope the government will take soon is to open up the teaching of life philosophies to students of religious denominations” says Andersson.

“It would increase equality and freedom of choice for pupils.”

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