Before private schools were taken over by the government in 1976, schools and churches were often merged into one in an effort to promote the spread of religion. Years later and there are still remnants of British colonialism within the school system. The prayers are Christian-oriented
Despite the various religions existing within the society and the country’s position as a “secular” state, most public schools across Guyana see students reciting Christian prayers despite their religious affiliation.
According to the Constitution of Guyana, the practice of having Christian prayers in public schools across the country is in contravention of laws set out in relation to the separation of church and state.
The Ministry of Education over the years has never addressed the issue despite many calls for comments on it through various media houses. By allowing public education to accommodate the Lord’s Prayer, the Ministry was seen to have been oblivious to the Constitution of Guyana.
Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, stated that the practice is not one which will be condoned by his Ministry. He made his intentions clear to do away with it and to implement inter-denominational prayers across the school system.
He added that the reciting of Christian prayers in schools may be a preference of the teachers and to his knowledge, has never been the policy of the Ministry.
“If that’s the practice that is going on in these public schools,” the Minister stated, “it is not a practice we condone. We are a multi-religious country and we have to realize that we have multi-religious children so that whatever prayer is used in schools should not exclude any of the religions.”
The Minister said that the Ministry will soon review the practice as it could possibly be detrimental to social cohesion. He said that he will soon start disseminating information throughout the country to inform teachers of the need of having inter-denominational prayers in our nation’s schools.
Inter-denominational prayers were said to be the only policy with regard to school prayers that the Ministry currently embraces as they can apply to all religions rather than to any single denomination.
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