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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Religion >> Special Feature: Religion and education

Special Feature: Religion and education

In 1992, non-government schools accounted for 28% of all school enrolments. 69% of them were in Catholic schools.

Australia has a dual education system comprising government schools (operated by the various State and Territory Education Departments) and non-government (private) schools, the vast majority of which have a religious affiliation. However, there are considerable variations between non-government schools in terms of their type, size and affiliation.


Religious school attendance

Schools with a religious affiliation are a significant feature of the Australian education scene and religious groups have played a major role in supporting the establishment and growth of non-government schools.

Attendance at a school with a religious affiliation does not necessarily imply a particular religious commitment on the part of the students or their families. There are many factors (either real or perceived) which contribute to the choice of non-government education. These include the type of educational philosophy, discipline, facilities, status etc. For some families the religious affiliation of a school may be an important factor but for others it may be quite incidental.


Schools and students
In 1992 the Department of Employment, Education and Training identified 2,454 non-government primary, secondary and combined schools. Of these, 1,685 were Catholic schools, 120 were Anglican, 73 were Seventh Day Adventist, and 70 were Lutheran. Overall, 860,000 students were enrolled in these non-government schools with 69% at Catholic schools and 10% at Anglican schools.

Between 1982 and 1992 there was a 22% increase in non-government school enrolments. This was a consequence of both an increase in the number of non-government schools and an increase in enrolments in existing schools. Over the same period enrolments in government schools declined slightly. Consequently, non-government schools increased their share of total enrolments from 24% in 1982 to 28% in 1992. This growth was experienced in most categories of non-government school.

There are differences in the size and level of non-government schools. In 1992, the largest schools were combined primary and secondary Uniting Church schools with an average enrolment of over 1,000 students. Overall, slightly less than half of non-government school enrolments in 1992 were at secondary level. However, around 70% of Anglican, Presbyterian and Uniting Church school enrolments were secondary students. The majority (just over 70%) of Seventh Day Adventist and Catholic schools offered only primary education.

Despite being one of the smaller religious groups (less than 50,000 adherents in 1991) the Seventh Day Adventist Church had more schools than any other religious group except the Catholic and Anglican Churches. The schools tended to be small, on average. In 1992, the average size of Seventh Day Adventist primary schools at 60 students was about a quarter of the overall average for non-government primary schools while their secondary schools were about half the size of other non-government secondary schools. Baptist schools were also significantly smaller than the others, on average.

Generally, religious schools do not provide only for students affiliated with a particular religion. While data on the religion of students attending different categories of religious schools are not available, the 1991 Census allows the classification of non-government school students by their religious affiliation. As indicated earlier, about a quarter of all primary students and a third of all secondary students attended non-government schools. However, there were considerable variations between religions. Nearly two-thirds of Jewish students attended non-government schools, as did just over half of Catholic students and just under half of Seventh Day Adventist students. For these three groups, the proportions of primary and secondary students attending non-government schools were much the same. For other religious groups, such as Anglican, Presbyterian and Uniting Church, with lower attendance rates at non-government schools, students were about twice as likely to attend a non-government school for secondary than for primary education.

A comparison of enrolments in religious schools with students of that particular religious affiliation who are attending non- government schools provides some indication of the extent to which religious schools attract students outside their own religious group. Thus, for example, in the 1991 Census, 288,000 Catholic primary students indicated that they were attending non-government schools. Many, although by no means all, of these would have been attending Catholic schools. 1991 enrolment data indicate that Catholic schools provided for 343,000 students. A sizeable proportion of these enrolments must therefore have included students from other religious groups (including those who did not identify with a religion in the Census).

In proportional terms, Lutheran and Seventh Day Adventist schools had the highest apparent enrolment of children from other faiths. They had enrolments ranging from 60-70% greater than the number of Lutheran and Seventh Day Adventist students who indicated in the 1991 Census that they attended non-government schools. The data do not allow any conclusions to be drawn for religious categories such as Anglican, Uniting or Presbyterian. These schools are likely to enrol students from a range of faiths and students from these denominations attending non-government schools are likely to attend a range of religious schools.

NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS(a) AND STUDENTS, 1992

Primary
Secondary
Combined



Schools
Enrolments
Schools
Enrolments
Schools
Enrolments
Religion
no.
'000
no.
'000
no.
'000

Anglican
19
4.7
16
7.7
85
71.6
Baptist
13
1.1
2
0.8
24
9.4
Catholic
1,229
318.0
342
208.0
114
73.1
Judaism
7
1.5
3
0.5
9
6.3
Lutheran
56
9.4
12
6.1
2
1.6
Presbyterian
3
0.3
1
0.3
9
8.2
Seventh Day Adventist
52
3.1
7
2.0
14
1.7
Uniting Church
5
0.4
1
0.6
36
36.8
Other(b)
172
12.8
43
13.7
178
63.6
Total
1,556
351.3
427
239.7
471
272.4

(a) Excludes special schools.
(b) Includes other religious schools and non-religious schools.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training Census of Non-government Schools

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS ATTENDING NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, 1991

Primary
Secondary
Religion of student
%
%

Anglican
10.2
23.5
Baptist
20.9
27.5
Catholic
55.1
56.5
Judaism
66.7
63.6
Lutheran
24.2
27.8
Presbyterian
11.4
20.1
Seventh Day Adventist
45.1
44.7
Uniting Church
8.2
20.8
No religion
7.0
16.9
Total(a)
24.8
32.4

(a) Includes other religions and denominations.

Source: Census of Population and Housing

NON-GOVERNMENT SCHOOL ENROLMENT COMPARISON, 1991

Primary
Secondary


Students(a)
Enrolments(b)
Students(a)
Enrolments(b)
Religion
'000
'000
'000
'000
Anglican
36.1
26.2
63.3
57.8
Baptist
6.5
5.2
5.9
5.4
Catholic
288.3
342.6
218.9
255.1
Judaism
4.7
5.1
3.6
3.0
Lutheran
6.0
9.5
4.6
7.0
Presbyterian
3.9
2.2
7.1
6.0
Seventh Day Adventist
2.5
4.0
1.8
2.6
Uniting Church
12.1
10.8
21.8
27.9
Other(c)
77.3
41.4
81.7
44.4
Total
439.5
447.2
411.8
409.2

(a) Census counts of non-government students by affiliation of student.
(b) Enrolments in non-government schools by affiliation of school.
(c) Other religious and non-religious.

Source: Census of Population and Housing; Department of Employment, Education and Training Census of Non-government Schools


Educational qualifications
In 1991, 39% of the total population aged 15 years and over had some form of post-school qualification and 8% had a degree or higher qualification. There were differences between religious groups. Hindus (41%), Jews (35%) and Oriental Christians (22%) were considerably more likely to have a degree or higher qualification than people from other religious groups. Conversely, 29-31% of adherents to Islam and Buddhism, and members of the Jehovah's Witness, Orthodox and Salvation Army groups had post-school qualifications. Among the larger Christian denominations, Baptists were the most likely to have a qualification (42%) and the most likely to have a degree or higher qualification (12%).

There is a correlation between the level of education and the tendency to state 'no religion'. Of people aged 15 years and over, 11% of those without a post-school qualification stated 'no religion', compared to 16% of those with vocational qualifications, 25% of those with degrees and 33% of those with higher degrees.

PERSONS AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER BY LEVEL OF QUALIFICATION, 1991

Degree or higher
Diploma(a)
Skilled or basic vocational
No post-school qualification(b)
Total
Total
Religion
%
%
%
%
%
'000

Christian
    Catholic
9.8
7.1
19.8
63.3
100.0
3,511.3
    Anglican
8.8
7.4
20.7
63.1
100.0
3,290.8
    Uniting Church
10.7
9.2
18.6
61.5
100.0
1,092.2
    Presbyterian & Reformed
8.2
7.8
22.3
61.7
100.0
646.0
    Orthodox
8.6
4.1
17.1
70.2
100.0
385.3
    Baptist
12.0
10.1
19.5
58.4
100.0
217.7
    Lutheran
9.2
7.8
23.0
60.1
100.0
201.7
    Pentecostal
9.3
10.3
19.6
60.8
100.0
104.8
    Salvation Army
5.0
6.3
19.2
69.5
100.0
54.1
    Jehovah's Witness
2.3
3.8
23.4
70.5
100.0
53.9
    Oriental Christian
21.5
6.4
14.1
58.0
100.0
17.1
Non-Christian
    Buddhism
15.9
6.7
7.8
69.6
100.0
110.1
    Islam
13.4
4.5
13.1
69.0
100.0
95.2
    Judaism
35.1
8.5
11.7
44.8
100.0
59.8
    Hinduism
40.6
9.4
9.5
40.6
100.0
32.3
No religion
16.7
7.3
17.9
58.0
100.0
1,573.0
Not stated
14.2
9.0
25.1
51.7
100.0
1,313.5
Total(c)
11.2
7.7
20.0
61.1
100.0
13,085.7

(a) Includes undergraduate and associate diploma.
(b) Includes those who did not state whether they had post-school qualifications.
(c) Includes other religions and denominations.

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Teachers
The Census of Population and Housing does not identify whether teachers work in government or non-government schools, although it does provide data on the religious affiliation of teachers as a whole. In aggregate this was broadly similar to the overall population (22% of teachers were Anglicans and 25% were Catholics). As the level of teaching increased, however, there was an increasing tendency for teachers to state 'no religion'. 12% of primary teachers, 19% of secondary teachers and 34% of higher education teachers reported 'no religion'. This finding is related to the correlation between the level of qualification and the tendency to state 'no religion'.



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