SCHOOLS

Ministry to tweak "controversial" elements of civic education course

References to homesexuality and social inequality in classes angered many New syllabus will include role of initiative in "wealth creation" and respect for intellectual property

Education Minister José Ignacio Wert announced on his first day on the job that he would eliminate "the controversial elements" from the most contentious school subject of the three last political terms, Educación para la Ciudadanía, to be renamed Civic and Constitutional Education.

Next Thursday his ministry will propose new content for a civics education course first introduced by the Socialist government in 2006 and deemed unacceptable by conservatives and the Catholic Church because of references to homosexuality and social inequality. Opponents claimed the course was biased in favor of Socialist initiatives such as legalizing same-sex marriage.

Instead, the government will include references to the role of private initiative in "the creation of wealth" and respect for intellectual property rights. The new course content will also mention global conflicts such as terrorism, religious fanaticism and exclusive nationalisms, while striking out the mentions of "an unequal world," "wealth and poverty" and "the lack of access to education as a source of poverty."

In broad terms, the new course, which is taught at the high school level, places more stress on citizen respect for legal and constitutional limits and uses more generic expressions than the previous version.

Although there was controversy over this one-hour weekly course when it was first introduced, opposition to it has died down over the years. By 2009 there were just 114 conscientious objectors out of a body of 800,000 students, according to the latest count by this newspaper.

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