Waikato schools flout religion rules

Steve Lunam

Christian Religious Education has 470 volunteers who teach in 83 Waikato schools (file photo).

Fewer Waikato state schools are teaching religion, but those that do regularly flout the rules.

But unless a complaint is made, the ministry in charge doesn’t enforce the law. 

Stuff asked more than 200 state schools whether they offered Bible studies.

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Secular Education Network co-leader David Hines says religious instruction is not for state schools.

One Waikato school offered 30 hours per year and another had Bible studies during school hours. Both are in breach of the law.

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Of the 50 schools that responded, 35 did not offer religious instruction. Six of those had previously offered classes.

Schools are legally obliged to be secular, but under the Education Act, they are allowed to close for religious instruction, as long as children can opt out.

It can be taught for one hour a week up to 20 hours per year, but never while the school is open.

Several principals said they didn’t have the space to…

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