Christian education programme in false claim row

A Christian education organisation breached advertising standards by claiming its programmes were endorsed by the Ministry of Education, the Advertising Standards Complaints board has ruled.

The complaints board found statements referring to the ministry published by the Churches Education Commission (CEC) in a leaflet on its website were not truthfully presented.

The leaflet said religious education was the: "Policy statement of the Churches Education Commission -- approved by the Ministry of Education and NZ School Trustees Association".

Under the heading "Authority", it said CEC was "recognised by the Ministry of Education as the major provider of religious education in New Zealand state schools".

In response to the complaint, CEC said the policy statement was approved by the ministry in the early 1990s but if the ministry "could no longer agree with the policy statement" it would remove the references to the ministry from its leaflet.

The statement was later questioned by the education management policy division of the ministry, who requested the statement be removed from under the heading "Authority".

The board said it acknowledged the difficulties CEC had trying to present accurate information, however the leaflet as it stood was misleading.

The board also upheld a complaint against another statement in the leaflet, which said CEC was responsible for co-ordinating religious education in New Zealand .

The board said it constituted an "exaggerated and misleading" claim because there were other providers of these programmes and each school was entitled to appoint a provider of their own choice.

The board did not upheld a complaint that the leaflet had implied the curriculum of its programme was approved by the ministry.

- NZPA

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