Towards a reform of religious teaching in the Chilean school system

Carmelo Galioto, Cristóbal Bellolio

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1 Scopus citations


This essay proposes to change the current manner by which religion is taught within the Chilean school system. Currently, all schools are legally compelled to offer a particular religious teaching in a confessional fashion, although exemptions are offered on an individual basis; whilst state-owned or private secular schools must choose a religion from a list of alternatives (usually Catholicism), private faith schools only teach about the religious belief that defines their educational project. As it stands, this scheme generates problems of exclusivism (students only learn about one faith), confessionalism (they are directed to believe in said faith), and religious illiteracy (in cases where they are allowed to opt-out from the religion class). After characterising religious learning as an educational good for anthropological, cultural, existential, and civic reasons, we propose a move towards a scheme of universal (all faiths), mandatory (no exemptions), and non-confessional (non-directive) religious teaching for state schooling (UMNC). Finally, we propose extending UMNC to faith schools, for reasons related to the epistemic and axiological place of the religion class within the curriculum, and a shift from concerns about parental rights to a child-centred approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102791
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Chile
  • Public education
  • Religion
  • Religious education


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