Karin Fischer
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Education policy and social, cultural and religious diversity
What role for schools?
in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland
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Chapter 3 examines developments in Irish education policy generally over the past forty years and how they have related to social, cultural and religious diversity and inequalities. It looks at state views of the aim of school education and the shift from Gaelic-Catholic nationalism to market-oriented views (Denis O’Sullivan’s ‘mercantile paradigm’) within an international context. It analyses the tentative and limited opening towards more pluralist conceptions of Irish society in general policy documents of the 1990s and the persistence of more traditional Christian views and values. In the 2000s education policy discourses acknowledged some discrimination issues as part of official efforts towards the ‘inclusive society’, but still largely ignored existing issues of religious discrimination. By contrast, from the mid-1990s onwards, teacher organisations and other educational actors called for a national policy that would address both sociocultural and religious inequalities and discrimination. This led to the formulation of a new intercultural discourse in education at both educational and state levels.

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