Education and Training Bill: Requiring an “opt-in” process for religious instruction in state primary and intermediate schools

Clause 56 in the Bill requires state primary and intermediate boards that choose to close their school to allow religious instruction to have signed consent from a parent or caregiver placing a child in religious instruction. This requires processes to be explicitly “opt in”.

Currently, section 79 of the Education Act 1964 requires any parent or guardian of the pupil to make his or her wishes known in writing to the principal of the school if they do not wish to take part in religious instruction or observance. This is what is known as an “opt-out” process.

However, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA) and the Human Rights Act 1993 give all people in New Zealand the right to be free from discrimination based on their religious or non-religious beliefs. Boards will still need to comply with both of these Acts when offering religious instruction.

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