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Schools in Sydney Witness Increase in Enrollment of Muslim and Hindu Students: Is Australia’s Religious Profile Changing?

According to latest figures, almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state has declined association with any religion".

Muslim and Hindu
According to latest data, Hinduism and Islam and growing religions in the schools of New South Wales. Pixabay
  • Public schools have witnessed a rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students
  • According to survey by NSW Department of Education, about 20, 000 Hindu students have sought admissions this year
  • Shockingly, almost 30 per cent of the students have associated themselves with “no religion”

Australia , August 29, 2017 : Public schools in Sydney have witnessed a huge rise in the enrollment of Muslim and Hindu students while the population of Christian students is on a decline. This has been discovered by a recent survey by the New South Wales Department of Education, which revealed the growing figures of Muslim and Hindu students. According to the official data, the tally of Muslim and Hindu students enrolled this year has now touched 52,000 and 20,000, respectively.

The Rising Tally of Hindu-Muslim Students

Islam is the second largest religion of Australia, after Christianity, followed by Buddhism and Hinduism.

It was found that about 52,000 public school students now identify themselves as Muslim; a 2,000 person increase from last year’s enrollment.

As per data, 445 out of 507 students at Punchbowl Boys High School are listed as Islamic while 91 percent students at Auburn West Public School have identified as Muslims.

The state is also the preferred location for most residing Hindus of Australia with over 20,000 Hindu students in the state- this makes for a 7 per cent increase than 2016 figures.

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, last year about 50,000 Muslim students were enrolled in public schools while the figures of Hindu students stood at 18,600.

ALSO READ Australian Census of 2016 Reveals Some Captivating Facts about Hindus

Students’ Tally of Pupils Belonging to Other Faiths

In comparison to the two faiths, the tally of Anglicans has fallen from 105,300 in 2016 to 99,000 this year. Additionally, a fall has also been observed in Protestant, Baptist and Presbyterian religions.

While the tally of children identifying as Catholic (other) has also witnessed a decline, the figures of Catholic (Western/Roman) students enrolled in schools this year have remained unchanged at 103,000.

However, shockingly, over 230,000 pupils choose to associate themselves with “no religion”. They make up almost 30 per cent of the entire student population of the state.

The high tally of children who do no associate with any religion has prompted parents and school authorities alike to define the structure of classes based on ethics instead of those in scriptures.

At present, about 30 per cent of the primary schools in the state offer ethics classes however they remain outside the domain of government funding.

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Populism Facing Pre-Election Public Oppositions from European Catholic Clerics

The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg y in opposition to nationalist populists

populism, pre election, catholic, european
FILE - A demonstrator holds a European flag during a protest in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. VOA

Catholic clerics in four northern European countries have taken the unprecedented step of urging their congregations to back pro-European Union parties in continent-wide elections later this month. The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have put themselves squarely in opposition to nationalist populists.

Praising the principle of solidarity and collaboration among nations, they warn that the EU is under threat.

The bishops urged Europeans to vote in the May 23-26 elections for the 751-seat EU parliament in a show of support for European unity and to promote “dialogue and integration between peoples.”

Analysts say this month’s election is possibly the most consequential since 1979, when Europeans first began casting ballots for a European parliament. The continent’s new breed of nationalist populists is eschewing pocketbook issues in campaigning and focusing on issues of national identity.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Pope Francis greets faithful from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 21, 2019. VOA

The bishops’ statement added, “The EU is threatened today by various economic, political, demographic and ideological crises — but we are convinced it has tools to overcome them.” The Church leaders said, “Some seek to oppose the EU and resort back to independent nations. We are certain solidarity and collaboration between nations is the most fruitful response we can offer.”

Signatories to the appeal include Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, and a dozen other prelates. Hollerich told a German Catholic news agency, “Brexit, populism and nationalism” pose a threat to Europe.​

Populist parties

The appeal has drawn the ire of nationalist populists who accuse Church leaders of meddling in politics. It has become the latest flashpoint in a rhetorical battle between populists and church hierarchies in several European states.

Church leaders say they felt compelled to issue the appeal because of a surge in support for anti-establishment populists.

Populist parties, especially in Italy, Poland, Hungary and France, expect to make major gains in the elections. Pollsters are predicting euroskeptic populists will capture a third of the European parliament’s seats.

Pope Francis has spoken frequently against some aspects of the current surge in nationalist populism and recommenced instead a Christian populism. During an outdoor Mass last month, he told a crowd of 100,000 that “the only possible populism” is a Christian one that “listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels.”

Also Read-Trump’s Immigration Plan Emphasizes Skills over Family Connections

‘At war’ over migrants

The editor of L’Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, has accused Matteo Salvini, the firebrand leader of Italy’s far-right Lega party, of being “at war” with the Catholic Church over the treatment of migrants.

Marco Tarquinio’s accusation followed a new anti-migrant law that aims to deny undocumented migrants access to shelters. The law also doubles the time undocumented migrants can be detained, and eliminates humanitarian grounds for granting asylum to migrants unless they’re specifically fleeing political persecution or war.

“In Italy, the war against solidarity networks, large and small, is becoming more bitter and aggressive each day,” Tarquinio wrote in the editorial, in which he condemned what he called the Italian government’s “hostility” toward charitable organizations.

On Monday, a close aide to Pope Francis drew Salvini’s ire by climbing through a manhole to reconnect the electricity supply to an abandoned government-owned building occupied by hundreds of homeless people, including migrants and children. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who distributes the Pope’s charity funds, broke a police seal to re-connect the electrical circuit.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini takes a selfie with supporters in Corleone, Sicily, Italy April 25, 2019. VOA

Rome’s left-leaning Ia Repubblica newspaper dubbed Krajewski “The Pope’s Robin Hood.” The building had been without power since May 6, when the circuits were cut because of more than $300,000 in unpaid bills.

“Defending illegality is never a good sign,” Salvini told reporters. “There are many Italians and even legal immigrants who pay their bills, even if with difficulty. People can do what they please, but as interior minister, I guarantee the rules.”

Nationalist populists do have supporters among prelates, especially in central Europe. A former Polish secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Msgr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, told the Catholic News Service recently that some “anti-establishment parties” had “sensible reform ideas,” and could be instrumental in encouraging EU institutions to adopt a “more conservative attitude to religion, family life and national identity.”(VOA)