Letter: Religious lessons

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Sir: Under the headline "Church's grip on Irish schools is loosened" (13 April), Alan Murdoch reports from Dublin on the Irish Government's White Paper on education, which, he predicts, will "lead to a major decline in influence for the previously dominant Catholic Church".

But on another page, you report on the research of David Owen of Warwick University, which shows that educational standards in Ireland are higher than those in Britain. This report states that "only 12.5 per cent of white British people between 18 and 29 have degrees, or similar higher level qualifications, against 24.9 per cent of Irish-born British residents in the same age group".

Dare I suggest that the high level of education in Ireland is due in no small measure to the hard work and generosity to men and women in religious orders throughout this century? And that their great success in educating young people may have had broader, and nobler aims, than that suggested by Alan Murdoch, namely "the recruitment of the next generation of nuns and priests"?

Yours faithfully,

B. O'ROURKE

Harborne, Birmingham

13 April

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