The Teaching of Religious Education in Public Schools in the Nordic Countries of Europe
- Vicente Llorent-Bedmar
- Verónica Cobano-Delgado
Christianity has constituted the cultural and ethical foundation of Europe. In the European Union (EU) a general regulation does not exist concerning religious education (RE) in schools, although there is a guarantee to parents that their children should be educated in agreement with their religious convictions.
Using the research methodology characteristic of Comparative Education, we analyzed the constitutions and distinct facets of religious education in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The legal framework has been gleaned from these countries’ respective constitutions, in which moreover the right to religious freedom is explicitly embodied, except in the case of Norway where it is implicit.
In the constitutions of Denmark and Finland, clear references are made to compulsory schooling free of charge (art. 76 and art. 16, respectively), whereas the Swedish constitution only alludes to the Government’s responsibility in the area of education (art. 7.1) and the Norwegian constitution focuses on the education of the King (art. 47).In the four countries under investigation we found that the question of religion and morality was treated with special attention. With respect to freedom to choose whether or not to take RE, while it was a compulsory subject within the school curriculum in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, since 2007 pupils in Norway have been allowed to refuse to take “Christianity, religion and philosophy”.
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