CHURCH INSISTS ON EXPANSION OF TEACHING OF FOUNDATIONS OF THE CULTURE OF RELIGIONS
RIA Novosti, 25 January 2016
The primate of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed participants in the 24th International Christmas Educational Readings, which began on Monday, and he asked them to consider the possibility of expanding the course of Foundations of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics within the framework of the school curriculum, since "the spiritual security of society" depends on this.
"While preserving the educational component of education, we should take into account the rapidly changing reality and begin to be effective in the face of contemporary challenges, since to a great extent not only the moral enlightenment of our young compatriots but also the spiritual security of our whole society depends on this," Patriarch Kirill said.
He emphasized that "it is such educational enlightenment goals that were aimed at in the introduction in all Russian regions in 2012 of the subject "Foundations of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics," which is now being taught in the fourth grade of general education schools.
"The majority of parents and teachers support the expansion of the teaching of religious cultures and secular ethics into other years of education" the first hierarch noted, and he suggested to the Ministry of Education "to consider the possibility of such an expansion within the framework of the school curriculum."
In his speech, the head of the RPTs also touched on the issue of teaching theology in higher educational institutions, which, he said, "is not exotic but a requirement of the times." He called attention to the fact that it is often a lack of knowledge about one's faith that leads to the formation of "distorted" or "even fanatical views," that can cause great damage to the individual and to the state.
"Society needs to recognize that theology is not the attempt to make everyone religious and pious overnight and it is not an intrusion into another's intellectual space. Theology in the universities is a cultural imperative for modern Russian society, which over the course of a long period of time was alienated from religion as a special and extremely important sphere of human existence, and it is an inoculation against extremism and exploitation of the religious convictions of people," the patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus is sure. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 January 2016)
RPTs IDENTIFIES PRECONDITIONS FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING OF FOUNDATIONS OF CULTURES IN SCHOOLS
RIA Novosti, 25 January 2016
The introduction by the Ministry of Education of the subject area "Foundations of the Spiritual and Moral Culture of the Peoples of Russia" and the active cooperation of the dioceses with local bodies of administration of education are important preconditions for the introduction of the subject "Foundations of Religious Culture and Secular Ethics" at all levels of school study, thinks the head of the synod's Department of Religious Education and Catechesis of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan Merkury.
The subject "Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Cultures of the Peoples of Russia" began to be taught in Russian schools on 1 September 2015. The discipline is not required for study and therefore each school is left to its own discretion for ways of implementing the subject area approved by the Ministry of Education.
"The subject 'Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Cultures of the Peoples of Russia' is correctly viewed by the Ministry of Education and the church pedagogical community as a logical continuation of 'Foundations of Religious Culture and Secular Ethics.' In this way there now already is the possibility of expanding the study of traditional religious cultures on the basis of choice at the foundational level of general education. Of key importance in this process, alongside support of the federal ministry, is the activity of regional bodies of administration of education, principals, head teachers, and each individual teacher," the hierarch said during his speech at the opening of the 24th International Christmas Educational Readings.
He said that at the present moment the standing departments of dioceses, with the support of parents and teachers, "must make efforts" aimed at the introduction of the "teaching of Orthodox culture within the framework of the subject area 'Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Cultures of the Peoples of Russia' in the fifth through ninth grades or at the expansion of the teaching of such courses in places where they already are being taught."
It is this, the metropolitan suggests, that will become "the substantive precondition for the adoption by the ministry of a decision for starting the full-fledged teaching of traditional religious cultures at all levels of study in the schools."
The head of the synodal department is sure that such a decision will be completely in accordance with the "strategy for the development of education in the Russian federation in the period up to 2025" that was confirmed in 2015.
According to data that was presented by the first deputy minister of education and science of the RF, Natalia Tretiak, in 2015 about a half million fourth graders in Russian schools began to study the subject "Foundations of Orthodox Culture."
"This year along with the synod's Department of Religious Education and Catechesis of the Russian Orthodox Church, in close cooperation with the provinces of Russia and authors of textbooks, it is planned to work out a draft of a model working curriculum for the academic course 'Orthodox Culture,'" Tretiak reported.
The deputy ministry said that after the draft of the curriculum is reviewed at a meeting of the Federal Textbook Resource Association for General Education, she can fill out a register of model basic educational curricula and it will be recommended for use in the work of the schools.
In addition, Tretiak reported that representatives of centralized religious organizations of Russia will be involved in the expert analysis of textbooks on the foundations of religious cultures. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 January 2016)
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