By Jay Dilip Lakhani
Hindu Council UK
The new National Framework for Religious Education was launched on 28th October by the Secretary for State for Education, Charles Clarke.
Hindu Council UK had been fighting hard to incorporate some key Hindu ideas in the new framework. Full details can be viewed at the Hindu Council website. The ideas included are: Religious pluralism to be incorporated in studies of all religions; Promotion of spiritual humanism?role and relevance of mankind; A variety of religions to be taught to encourage better understanding of one anothers faiths; Developing links between religions, sciences and arts; Religions promoted not as a matter of belief but as a matter of experience.
Prior to the launch, we were told by Graham Langtree of the QCA that we will be surprised to see that the actual document will look as if it has been written by us! So we were anxious to see to what extent these ideas have been incorporated in the new framework. We were quite happy to see most of these ideas in the final version except one. Religious pluralism is a difficult issue and the religious education bodies?still operating under the Abrahamic influence?are struggling to incorporate this Hindu idea into their religious teachings.They still want to hold on to an ?exclusivist agenda?! Though the document has gone some way in promoting the idea of ?Interfaith Dialogue?. It is quite surprising to discover that our ideas of religious pluralism are published by a mainstream Shi?a Muslim journal while the mainstream Christian leaders keep avoiding it. This issue of exclusivism still being promoted remains a recipe for friction between world religions.
On 2nd November HC had a meeting of the Religious Education Council for England and Wales, which was attended by Charles Clarke. Religious Education is receiving great deal of attention from the government post 9/11.