Updated: Anger over Matsec question on divorce
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Updated: Anger over Matsec question on divorce

 Updated - Adds Education Division reaction - The Divorce Movement expressed anger this afternoon over a question involving divorce in this morning's first session of the Matsec religion exam.

Movement chairman Deborah Schembri and Evarist Bartolo, who is also shadow minister for education, said exam candidates had been asked about what their views on divorce were, as Christians.

Parents had complained to the movement that teachers had told them that children would lose points if they wrote in favour of divorce.

During a press conference, Dr Schembri and Mr Bartolo condemned the abusive use of children during the divorce campaign.

Dr Schembri said that at Zebbug primary school, ballot papers had been handed out to Year Six pupils during a PSD lesson and the children were asked to mark the 'No' box under the guise of a lesson about democracy.

When parents asked their children about it, the children replied that marking 'yes' would indicate that the marriage of their parents was breaking up.

They said that leaflets against the introduction of divorce had also found their way to various schools.

Dr Schembri insisted that the divorce legislation as proposed in parliament would benefit children since it provided for maintenance. It would also enable children born out of wedlock to live in a family environment since parents whose marriage had failed could remarry.

At the same time, she said, the introduction of divorce would not affect children whose parents were in a stable, happy marriage.

The Divorce Movement officials also distributed research showing that despite divorce, marriage in Chile and several areas of the United States were lasting longer and the number of marriages was increasing. Much, they said, depended on the culture of the people.

EDUCATION DIVISION REACTION

When contacted, a spokesman for the Ministry for Education said he would look into the incident of the religion exam. 

However, he did offer an explanation for the case of the Zebbug primary school, where he denied that the teacher ordered the students to vote in any particular way. He said this was a lesson on democracy - as prescribed by the syllabus. Two children were asked to speak in favour and against divorce and the children took a vote.

"Out of a class of 15, nine voted yes and six voted no. So the majority voted yes," the spokesman said, rubbishing claims that students were forced to vote no.

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