Religious policy for schools adopted

The proposed new religious policy for South African schools was adopted unanimously yesterday, Minister of Education Kader Asmal announced in Bloemfontein.

Asmal, speaking at a media conference after a regular meeting between him and provincial education MECs, said all nine MECs accepted the final draft.

It was to be released nationally on a date still to be announced.

Asmal said the policy would not be implemented in schools before teachers were properly trained and the necessary learning materials provided.

This was to be determined by a standing national advisory committee, appointed by his department.

Departmental officials and MEC's were first to "fan out" across the country to explain the new policy to the public.

Asmal added that there were public misconceptions regarding the policy. It was mainly aimed at returning religion as a core value to South African schools, he said.

Yesterday's adoption of the policy follows two years of intense discussion. Many interpreted the draft policy as proposing the limiting of religious practice at schools.

The Democratic Alliance recently called on Asmal to extend the deadline allowing the public to comment on the proposed policy. The party said several stakeholders complained that they had not have sufficient time to consider it.

Asmal said yesterday no submissions from public were ignored when the final draft was prepared.