Letter: Religious schools

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I disagree with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's assertion that state- funded religious schools will have the effect of "educating children to separate themselves from others and to distance themselves from the core values that should bind the various peoples of any national entity" ("Why my heart sank to see the opening of our first Sikh school", 2 December).

She concedes that Church of England and Catholic Schools are applying increasingly rigorous admissions criteria. Muslim, Sikh or Hindu schools are still a novelty and it has yet to be seen whether the standards they wish to apply will be as exacting as those of some Jewish, Catholic or C of E schools.

Why does Ms Brown wish to deprive the educators of these new schools the opportunity to apply similar or more rigorous standards themselves?The issue which is foremost in the mind of any right-thinking parent is the standard of education and not necessarily whether the school espouses a religious doctrine.

There is an assumption in Ms Brown's argument which is unfounded; namely, that the new religious schools are in some way below standard, or will deprive children of learning about other cultures. It seems a bit hasty, at this stage, to make such assumptions.

Q N AHMED

Hertford College, Oxford

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