Religion in the “Curriculum 21” for German-speaking Switzerland
In future Swiss schools will have common curricula in the different language regions. These will replace the existing curricula of the cantons. It is a special challenge that religion is incorporated because of the traditionally confessional differences between the cantons as well as the existing religious plurality and the secularization of society. This context provides a special challenge for the school system.
In the French-speaking cantons of West Switzerland a common “Plan d’Etudes Romand PE” has already come into force. It includes a section on “Ethique et Cultures religieuses“. As a “spécifité cantonale” it is not binding and is used according to that status.
With regard to the 21 German and multilingual cantons a common curriculum project has started called “Lehrplan 21”; here, within a comprehensive area of studies, “Nature-Human being-Society”, there is a sub-area called “Ethics-Religions-Community”. Through this, the theme of religion is positioned in the general education of primary school; a confessional religious education is no longer part of the school. This is dedicated to the religious communities. The Curriculum 21 is competence oriented and it is planned to have it implemented from 2015 onwards.
Religion and Culture: new school books for students
In the canton of Zürich a new school subject called “Religion and Culture” has been in the process of implementation for a couple of years. The subject is obligatory for all pupils of grade 1 to grade 8, whatever religious affiliation they have. In cooperation with the different religious communities and with experts new school books have been developed. The volumes “Blickpunkt 1 bis 3” are available from June 2013 onwards. Now, for the first time German school books exist for religious education where all pupils attend, those with and those without a religious affiliation. The books are published by the state-owned publisher of the canton of Zürich: www.blickpunkt-religionundkultur.ch
(This post is based on a report of Johannes Kilchsperger, ICCS correspondent in IV & ICCS Newsletter No. 3, May 2013)
The RE Review report is now published following eighteen months of development work and consultation. The full report includes the curriculum framework, a discussion of the wider context for RE and a series of questions to inform future work and development, as well as the recommendations of the Expert Panel report.
A summary report includes the introduction and the curriculum framework. Both versions are available in printed form as well as free to download.
The intro starts with the following:
Every child and young person who goes to school is entitled to an experience of religious
education (RE) that is both academically challenging and personally inspiring. To that end, the RE
Council of England and Wales (REC) undertook a review of the subject in England (referred to as
‘the Review’). It has drawn as widely as possible on the expertise of the RE community to develop
a benchmark curriculum that promotes high quality learning and teaching in all schools in the
coming years, and to map out issues for further development. School structures are becoming
increasingly diverse in England. It is important that within this diversity, schools’ RE curricula
give all young people the opportunity to gain an informed understanding of religious beliefs and
In the comprehensive and upper secondary schools, students belonging to a religious community are given religious education. Those who do not belong to a religious community are taught ethics. Denominational teaching other than Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox is given if there are at least three pupils or students belonging to the same religious community and their parents request it.
Curricula for different religions are created jointly by religious communities and educational authorities. The aim of a religious education curriculum is to familiarise pupils with their own religion and the Finnish traditions of belief, to acquaint students with other religions and help them understand the cultural and human significance of religions.
The current reform of curricula will also influence the status of religious education. See
OPS 2016 – Curriculum reform in Finland