By: Katayon Qahir
Under a radical council plan, in Flintshire, north Whales, faith schools students are required to have baptism certificates to be allowed on the school bus. This means they will have to prove their religion to qualify for free school buses. Children whose parents are nonbelievers will be denied access to free transportation to school. This act of law, which is the first of its kind in the country, is considered a discrimination against people without faith by students’ parents and Roman Catholic priests in the area.
This proposal is going to be put into practice next year and in order to meet this new rule, children will need to obtain a letter from a priest or other “suitable evidence of adherence to the faith of the school”. The schools have taken the responsibility of working on how parents should prove their child’s religion.
The decision has raised concerns among the parents who are non-believer. They fear they won’t be able to send their children to faith schools unless they provide a baptism certificate; and on the other hand, they address it as a prejudice to pay for their children’s school transport just because they are parents of non-baptized children. The decision has not only raised concerns among families but also among some of the schools, especially high schools where more than half of admissions come from non-Catholic primary schools.
A council statement says: “Like all councils, Flintshire County Council is under considerable pressure to make savings on its public spending. As a result, the council has had to look at every aspect of its work, especially where it is not compulsory for us to provide services and to consider how they can be delivered more efficiently and cost effectively.”
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