The South African Ministry of Basic Education has welcomed the judgement handed down in the South Gauteng High Court that public schools cannot promote one religion at the expense of the other religions, APA has learnt.“This ruling is consistent with the ministry’s own policy informed by the South African Schools Act and the Constitution that no one religion should be promoted above another,” the ministry said on
Thursday, adding that it would study the judgement in detail in due course.
The case was brought to the court by the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (OGOD) against Solidarity which represented the six schools in question.
OGOD argued that there was religious bias in South African public schools while the trade union Solidarity – which represented the six schools the case was brought against – argued that the country’s Constitution allowed public schools to identify with one religion and promote it over the others.
Handing down the judgment on Wednesday, judge Van der Linde said: “Religious observances may be conducted at state or state-aided institutions, provided that: (a) Those observances follow rules made by the appropriate public authorities; (b) They are conducted on an equitable basis; and (c) Attendance at them is free and voluntary.”
The ministry reiterated that the aim of the ruling was not to ban religious practices in schools but to protect children, emphasising that schools should engage in religion education rather than religious instruction and should not promote one religion over another.
“No change will take place as a result of this judgement and it will continue to be business as usual for the Ministry of Basic Education as the court merely reinforced and emphasised our existing policy in terms of religion in schools,” the ministry said.
The office reminded school governing bodies to review their rules to ensure that they were in compliance with the legislation.