I note from today's Herald that there is a minor storm in a tea cup over St Alberts R.C Primary School in Glasgow. Apparently someone has actually noticed that about 90% of pupils are Muslim which has caused a slight problem with religious services and the like at the school. Under Scottish law all denominational schools must make some provision for religious observance. At St Alberts this has led to the absurd situation whereby the class troop along to mass and only a minority actually take part.
One parent did make the suggestion that it might be a good idea to take the school's minority of Catholics to a separate hall to celebrate Mass. Which does strike me as being slightly better than the schools present solution of having Muslim children sit facing the wall during mass. I should stress that most of the Muslim parents quoted in the article seem quite happy with the way things are, however The Muslim Association of Great Britain would like to see St Alberts become a Muslim school which I suppose would mean that only 10% of the class would have to face the wall during worship.
In my view Muslim schools would be a disaster in terms of integration. On the other hand I cannot see how demands for Muslim schools can be refused whilst other religious minorities receive state funding for their schools. There have been attempts at denominational and non-denominational schools sharing a campus however this has proved controversial with some people. Well okay a Catholic bishop who seemed to take fright at the idea that Catholic children might enter by the same gate and even share a playground with non- Catholic children. Why no-one pointed out that Vatican can either pay for it's own fucking schools or accept what it's given has not, to the best of my knowledge, been explained. I also note that no-one had the good sense to call him a frock wearing old bigot and tell him to piss off. More's the pity.
This would be an ideal time to put an end to this nonsense and withdraw all state funding from denominational schools. Though unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much chance of the Scottish Executive making such a bold move. I know parental choice is often stated as the reason for providing religious schools, in that case why stop at religion? Racist parents wouldn't want their children going to school with other ethnic groups. Parents who fear their children might be targeted by racists could then reasonably demand their own schools. Oh and what about schools for the offspring of atheists. And lets face it who wants their children going to school with a bunch of poor people so why not (officially) segregate children by social class. The possibilities are endless.
I was always of the impression that school was meant to prepare one for life and unless you find gainful employment as a hermit you're likely to be forced to mix with a variety of people as an adult so it's as well to get the practice in early. If there is one thing my own years at a very socially and racially mixed school taught me is that everyone, regardless of background is barking mad on some level. Except me.