Since late 2012, RSA has been in dialogue and cooperation with others who share RSA's support for education in all schools about Beliefs, Religions and Ethics. This is consistent with RSA's opposition to the imposition of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in government schools.
This cooperation began with a submission to the Victorian Multicultural Commission in response to its Vision for Citizenship in a Multicultural Victoria (updated to Unity Through Diversity in March 2014). The submission was signed by adherents of both faith and freethought worldviews, including formal support from the RSA and eight other associations. See the submission and signatories.
Following the submission, ten associations, including the RSA, formed a coalition to develop a diversity education program called PathWays and to seek government funding. Using the pattern of a successful program offered by JCMA (Jewish Christian Muslim Association), PathWays will present a wide range of worldviews, including indigenous spirituality, Abrahamic and Asian religions, Enlightenment viewpoints expressed by humanist, rationalist and atheist voices, and sustainability activism. Schools may nominate their preferred combination.
What is PathWays?
PathWays is a presentation for the middle or senior levels of government high schools, by young people for young people. To date it has been delivered as a one and a half hour presentation to Year 10 cohorts but it can be tailored for the needs of the school.
Three presenters, mostly young adults, from different religious and philosophical worldviews speak about their backgrounds and beliefs, and the role their worldview plays in their lives.
The Australian National Curriculum calls for the development of a range of General Capabilities in all young Australians. The PATHWAYS program is one way schools can address the following general capabilities:
- Intercultural Understanding
- Ethical Understanding
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Personal and Social Capabilities.
How much does PathWays cost?
A contribution of $260 is sought to help cover the presenters' costs plus on-costs. Grant funding may be available to subsidise a presentation.
Who supports PathWays?
Organisations supporting PathWays include:
- Religions for Peace [Auspices]
- Council for Christians and Jews
- Living Faiths Commission (VCC)
- Commission for Mission (Uniting Church Synod of Vic-Tas)
- Second Strike (Youth Leadership)
- Freethought Student Alliance
- Humanist Society of Victoria
- Progressive Atheists (Vic)
- Rationalist Society of Australia
- Victorian Skeptics
The following organisations supported the original submission:
- Popular Education Network of Australia
- Jewish Community Council of Victoria
- Centre of Melbourne Multifaith & Others Network
- Women's International Network Foundation.
For further information or to organise a PathWays presentation, contact the PathWays Administrator, Dr Paul Tonson, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expressions of interest are welcome from potential presenters with any worldview, and from teachers who wish to draw students into respectful dialogue across differences of belief.