The Others: Muslim Faith-based Schools in a Catholic-majority Country
Mariachiara Giorda [+]
University of Roma Tre
Alberta Giorgi [+]
University of Bergamo
Faith-based schools raise a series of interesting questions in the political debate with regard to public education. First of all, public education has the dual task of providing all citizens with a standard level of literacy and educating new citizens. In fact, public education may be seen as crucial for building a sense of national unity through transmission of the values and principles on which the national identity has been founded. In this perspective, issues may arise concerning the role and the degree of autonomy of faith-based schools—that is, schools with a specific, religiously-inspired, educational concept—with regard to public education as a whole. What is the balance between freedom of education and social cohesion? Moreover, in a context of increasing religious diversity, issues may arise in relation to the status of faith-based schools of non-majoritarian religious traditions. Second, in countries in which education is mostly provided by the public sector but is chronically underfinanced, economic support for faithbased schools, which mainly act in the private sector, gives rise to fierce criticism from a large sector of the population. These concerns may apply to the relations between private and public education in a broad sense. Nonetheless, when considering faith-based schools, the matter is complicated by the overall status of religion within the public sector.