Matrics get to choose religious studies in 2006

From 2006, matriculants will for the first time be able to choose religious studies as a subject. "We are extremely busy writing three books, for grades 12, 11 and 10," said Chrissie Steyn, one of the authors attached to the University of SA's department of religious studies and Arabic. Steyn said matriculants would study different religions of the world, and the main religions in South Africa: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, African traditional religions and new religious movements.

Steyn says this was only available at tertiary level in the past.

Students from grade zero to grade 12 do study religion as part of their life orientation curriculum. "In grade one we expect pupils to recognise a symbol of their religion, in grade two they are expected to know some of the symbols of other religions ... In Grade 12, we ask what these religious teach, their festivals, like Deepavali and Eid", Steyn said.

Steyn said matriculants could also learn about Rastafarianism, the Baha'i faith and other minority religions. She said the important thing was that every child in the classroom was accommodated, whether they were humanist, agnostic or atheist.