Teaching Religious Education in the Spanish Schools: Some Non Religio-Centric Proposals

Francisco Díez de Velasco. Institute of Political and Social Sciences. University of La Laguna (Canary Islands, Spain)

A) Survey of the present model of RE in Spain and the Syllabuses of the different matters of study

Since 2007 (the development of the new model proposed by the government of Rodríguez Zapatero): three possibilities... (the choice between them is in the hands of the parents)

    1)-no RE: new option, following the aspirations of the lay lobby: “to put religion out of the school”, during the RE class students are doing other activities having nothing to do with religious subjects (nor important formative subjects) in fact doing nothing at all.

    2)-confessional religion with four possibilities:

-2a-Catholic religion (RMC=religión y moral católica / ERC= enseñanza de religión católica) derives from the National-Catholic Franquist Religious Education (compulsory for all the students, basic in the inculturation of the moral education in the pre-democratic Spain)… redefined with the 1979 agreements with the Holy See into compulsory for all the schools but optional for the students… (Teachers are paid by the State but appointed and dismissed by the bishops, SYLLABUS-Teaching Programme of EMC is proposed by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, most recent Syllabus july 2007: http://www.boe.es/g/es/bases_datos/doc.php?coleccion=iberlex&id=2007/12875

-2b-Jewish Religion (ERJ=enseñanza religiosa judía) since the 1992 agreements between Spanish State and the Jewish Community. Only in very few cases (4: Madrid, Barcelona, Ceuta, Melilla) ERJ is actually taught (and not in public schools, Jewish population with interest in the option is not important and the position of the Jewish leaders is against religion in public schools: Jacobo Israel Garzón, “La educación religiosa desde el punto de vista de las comunidades judías”, Bordón 58, 2006)… State doesn’t pay teachers of ERJ. Syllabus-Teaching Programme of ERJ: (1981): http://www.boe.es/g/es/bases_datos/doc.php?coleccion=iberlex&id=1981/08923).

-2c-Evangelical Christian options (ERE=enseñanza religiosa evangélica) since the 1992 agreements between Spanish State and the Evangelical Spanish Federation (FEREDE). State pays the teachers but not in all de Autonomies (depending on the sensibility of the different autonomic authorities). Syllabus-Teaching Programme of ERE, proposed by the FEREDE: 1993 http://www.boe.es/g/es/bases_datos/doc.php?coleccion=iberlex&id=1993/17449

-2d-Islam (ERI=enseñanza religiosa islámica) since the 1992 agreements between Spanish State and the Spanish Islamic Commission (CIE). State pays the teachers but not in all de Autonomies (depending on the sensibility of the different autonomic authorities). Syllabus-Teaching Programme of ERI, proposed by the CIE 1996 http://www.boe.es/g/es/bases_datos/doc.php?coleccion=iberlex&id=1996/01225


A creative example
Discovering Islam. Textbook for ERI first course.
Created by the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (UCI member of the CIE) / published by SM (Fundación Santa María-Foundation Saint Mary of the Marianist Order-Society of Mary) / with the collaboration of the Public Foundation Pluralismo y Convivencia (Plurality and Coexistence, Madrid).
The text is in Spanish (not in Arab), the values those of the Islam in Europe (e.g in gender roles) 


    3)- Non-confessional option, named HCR=Historia y Cultura de las Religiones (History and Culture of Religions) proposed only in Secundaria (four years: students from 12 to 16). Is an approach of the History and particularly the present of religions in the World and in Spain. Syllabus-Teaching Programme, has been proposed by the Spanish Education Ministry in 2006 and 2007 (in the context of the educational curricula of the law of education of 2006).

The central aim of my exposition is to show two proposals of a non Religio-centric approach to the study of the subject in Spanish Secondary School system (for Historia y Cultura de las Religiones, even "avant la lettre") produced by a research group from the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) (F. Díez de Velasco, Victoria Contreras / Roberto Rodríguez / Néstor Verona).

1) An introduction published in book format as: F. Diez de Velasco (dir.), Religiones y Culturas, Madrid, Santillana / El País (Enciclopedia del Estudiante vol. 19), 2005, 359 pp. (ISBN 84.9815.202.X) / adapted for South-America as: F. Diez de Velasco (dir.), Religiones y Culturas, Buenos Aires, Santillana (Enciclopedia del Estudiante vol. 17), 2006, 320 pp. (ISBN 950.46.1606.2) and re-adapted in an free access e-learning resource format named Kalipedia: http://www.kalipedia.com/religion-cultura/.

2) An free access e-learning platform named Religiones del Mundo (World Religions), http://www.cnice.mec.es/profesores/asignaturas_optativas/sociedad_cultura_y_
religion/religion_mundo/ available in Spanish and Catalan.