The Board meets once a year and includes one representative from each of the member countries, although all members of EFTRE are welcome to attend. If a vote is taken, each member country represented at the Board Meeting has one vote. 

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Austria: Österreich

Sonja Danner

Please see the Executive page for more information.

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Belgium: Belgie

Hugo Verkest

Please see the Executive page for more information.

Cyprus: Κύπρος

Dr Eliana Hadjioannou

Eliana Hadjioannou began her educational career as a teacher. She worked in the primary schools in Cyprus for 17 years and after that, she worked as a teacher of religious education until 2010. Then she was promoted to the director of a Gymnasium. Since 2013 she has been an inspector of RE. She is a Doctor of Theology and a qualified teacher, and she has also master’s degree in educational leadership. Alongside her duties as an inspector, she deals with the training of teachers in classroom management and ways to improve learning outcomes. She loves and explores the topic of surprise as an attention-grabbing element in religious education. She got to know EFTRE from other theologians, and she has been participating in it since 2018.

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Czech Republic: Česká republika

Petra Bandhauer

More information will follow.

Denmark: Danmark

Elisabeth Faber

Please see the Executive page for more information.

Estonia: Eesti

Dr Olga Schihalejev

Olga is an Associate Professor of Religious Education in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at University of Tartu. Her research focuses on young people’s views about religion and religious diversity, contextuality of religious views, teachers’ strategies and biography. See more on her professional website.

She has worked as a teacher of Religious Education and has written several teaching-learning resources. She is actively involved in improving the national syllabus for Religious Education. She has been with EFTRE since 2004, most of the time as representative of Estonia.

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Finland: Suomi

Risto Aikonen

Risto has been involved in Orthodox Religious Education (ORE) in Finland since the late 1980s. He has been a senior lecturer in religious education at the University of Eastern Finland since 1989, and has participated in the initial teacher training course for teachers preparing to work mainly in primary schools (7-12 years old), but also in secondary schools (13-15 years old) and upper secondary schools (16-18 years old). Risto has also been a member of the Finnish National Board of Education’s advisory group for the development of the national basic curricula for ORE in primary and upper secondary schools. He leads the ORE textbook project with NBE in Finland. He is the founder of OCREA, an international network of ORE for researchers and teachers, and chair of the SIG (Orthodox Christian Religious Education) group of the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA).

Risto first became aware of EFTRE’s work in 2007 when he attended the EFTRE conference in Budapest, and since then he has attended every EFTRE conference. Risto joined the board after the Budapest conference in 2007. He has encouraged Orthodox colleagues to join the EFTRE network from countries where ORE is the main religion subject in schools.

Tuomas Anttila

Another board member of Finland is Tuomas Anttila, please see the Executive page for more information.

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Germany: Deutschland

Bianca Kappelhoff

Please see the Executive page for more information.

Bert Roebben

Please see the Executive page for more information.

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Greece: Ἑλλάς

Dr Marios Koukounaras Liagkis

Please see the Executive page for more information.

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Hungary: Magyarország

Dr Eszter Kodácsy-Simon

Eszter is associate professor at the Lutheran Theological University in Budapest where she leads the Department of Religious Education.  She is involved in teacher training, postgraduate training and doctoral courses. Eszter leads the working group that is responsible for the curricula of RE in the Lutheran Church in Hungary. She is the responsible editor of the RE textbook-series in the Lutheran church, the co-author of six RE books and author of several publications on Christian education, church schools and RE.

Eszter joined EFTRE in 2014 and she has been the Board member for Hungary since then.

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Ireland: Éire

Dr Sandra Cullen

Sandra Cullen is Head of School of Human Development and Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Dublin City University. She is also the Director of the Irish Centre for Religious Education which supports research, practice and policy development in RE. Sandra taught post-primary RE for fourteen years before moving into initial teacher education for RE teachers. She teaches a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level and supervises doctoral theses in RE. She contributes to a number of academic books and journals and regularly presents at workshops for teachers. Her own PhD focused on the religious education of the RE teacher.

Sandra has been a member of the EFTRE Board since 2011 and was delighted to host the EFTRE Conference in Dublin in 2019. EFTRE has given her a wonderful opportunity to connect with enthusiastic and committed RE teachers across Europe.

Sandra can be contacted at

Italy: Italia

Orazio Ruscica

Orazio has been teaching Religious Sciences since 1983; he started as a middle school teacher and, since 1992, has been teaching Religious Sciences to Classic high school students.

He owns a Degree in Religious Sciences, a Master in Psychology of Labor and is specialized in Labor Relations.

Labor Relations has always been a topic of interest for him, so that in 1993 – together with some other colleagues – he founded SNADIR: Sindacato Nazionale Autonomo Degli Insegnanti di Religione (National Independent trade union for Religion teachers and professors). He is currently their National Secretary.

With SNADIR, he was able to obtain the legal status for Religious Science teachers and professors from the Italian Parliament, which favors the permanent appointment of Religious Science teachers and professors. Also, from CGUE he obtained the right for a precarious Religious Science teacher to be treated like any other disciplines’ precarious teacher and the ‘teacher card bonus’ for all precarious teachers. He also obtained an extraordinary recruitment procedure for religion teachers with at least 36 months of service.

Orazio serves as a President for ADR (Associazione Docenti per la Ricerca e la formazione), financed by MUIR (Italian Ministry of Education). In addition, he curates publications on labor relations and has been named Editor in Chief of the magazine “Professor IR”.

In April 2022 he was elected president of the Gilda-Unams Federation.

Orazio can be reached at

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Latvia: Latvija

Dzintra Iliško

Dzintra Iliško has been involved in Religious Education in Latvia for nearly fifteen years. She has served as a full-time professor at Daugavpils University, Latvia since 2009 where she is actively involved in teacher training programs. She runs training for Master and Doctoral level students and is involved in in implementing competence – based curriculum in teacher training programms.

Dzintra first became involved in work of EFTRE in 2001 when she attended the 11th EFTRE conference that took place in Bruges, Belgium on Poverty and Social Inclusion as European Issues. She had been part of every EFTRE Conference since then. Dzintra Iliško has joined the Board of EFTRE since then. Currently, she is the editor of international Journal Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education. She is the author of more than one hundred publications.

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Laima Geikina

More information will follow.

Netherlands: Nederland

Dr Henk Pol

More information will follow.

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Portugal: Portugal

Helena Guerra Pratas

Helena Pratas has a PhD in Theology and in Education. She has been involved in Religious Education in Portugal for more than twenty years, as a Senior Lecturer at ISEC, Lisbon, especially with initial teacher training students. She also taught Ethics, Citizenship and Values Education and worked as a Senior Researcher in Ethics and Citizenship since 2000. She published some books and many peer reviewed articles on diverse themes, some of them about religious themes and continues doing research and giving classes about the History of Salvation, Sacred Scripture, etc. She belongs to EFTRE since 2017.

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Spain: España

José Maria Guardia Sierra

José Maria Guardia has been involved in Religious Education in Spain for nearly thirty three years. He is engaged in Secondary Education schools: Instituto Educación Secundaria Luis Buñuel and Instituto Educación Secundaria Miguel de Molinos of Zaragoza (Spain). He studied Theology and Labour Sciences.  José is the current chair of APPRECE: Asociación Profesional de Profesores de Religión en Centros Estatales” (APPRECE).  (Association of Spanish RE Teachers in Public Schools) and APPRECE trade union, an organization that promotes the stability of religious education teachers and the teaching of RE integrated into the school curriculum. In 2011, APPRECE organised the board meeting and EFTRE Seminars in Sevilla.

José is currently a Board member representing Spain. He has written the chapter ”Religious education in Spain”, in Religious Education in Europe: Situation and current trends in schools, (ICCS), IKO, (2007). José has been a member of EFTRE since 2004, during The IXth EFTRE conference of Järvenpää Finland.

José can be contacted at: .

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Sweden: Sverige

Dr Olof Franck

Dr Olof Franck is Professor in Subject Matter Education, specialising Social Studies, and Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion, at the Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg.

Olof, who formerly was working for more than twenty years as a teacher in upper secondary school, has been engaged by the Swedish National Agency for Education as a subject expert in the school reforms Lgr11 and Gy11. He is the author of books and articles relating to the philosophy of religion, RE, ethics education and education for sustainable development (ESD).

Olof is engaged in research projects on dimensions of religious education and ethics education. He is Editor of Assessment in Ethics Education – A Case of National Tests in Religious Education. Cham: Springer (2017), and Co-editor of the research anthologies Ethical Literacies and Sustainable Development: Young People, Subjectivity and Democratic Participation, London: Palgrave/Macmillan (2017), and Religious Education in A Post-Secular Age. Case Studies from Europe, (Palgrave 2020).

After having visited one of the EFTRE conferences several years ago, Olof has been a frequent visitor on these occations. He is a member of the EFTRE Board since 2017.

Read more about Olof

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Switzerland: Schweiz

Tamar Krieger

Tamar has been teaching the compulsory subject “Religion and Ethics” for the past 8 years in different High Schools in Switzerland, currently at Kantonsschule Alpenquai Luzern. She has a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education Religion and an additional Teacher’s Diploma in History. She is also involved in creating Teaching Material for the Student Book “Sachbuch Religionen” and has been active in the Interreligious Dialogue of Lucerne for several years.

Tamar first learned about EFTRE through her work in the “Swiss Association of Religious Education Teachers” (VRG). She has been a member of EFTRE since 2020 and has been the representative for Switzerland since then.

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Ukraine: Україна

Kateryna Buchko

More information will follow.

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United Kingdom: England

Lesley Prior

Please see the Executive page for more information.

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United Kingdom: Northern Ireland

Dr Norman Richardson

Please see the Executive page for more information.

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United Kingdom: Scotland

Dr Graeme Nixon

Professor Graeme Nixon qualified as a teacher of Religious and Moral Education in 1995 and taught in various secondary schools in Scotland prior to taking up a post as lecturer in Initial Teacher Education at the University of Aberdeen in 2005. He teaches RME, Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS), thinking skills, mindfulness and values education across the programmes offered by the School of Education. These include professional degrees for teaching (4 year undergraduate and 1 year graduate) as well as postgraduate taught programmes. Graeme has published on developments in these areas both within Scotland and elsewhere on topics such as the emergence of philosophy within RE; conscientious withdrawal from RE; the (a)theistic position of RE teachers, and the risks of sanitised and essentialised approaches to religion in the RE classroom. He has also contributed to RME/RMPS curricular developments as well as policy debates and media discussions on the subject as well as other areas. Graeme supervises postgraduate researchers. He currently has 8 MSc and 7 PhD supervisees. Graeme was part of the Religious Education and Diversity (READY) Erasmus Plus project which looked at how RE can address issues relating to diversity across Europe.

Graeme attended the 2010 EFTRE conference in Bruges and since then he has been the Scottish board member on EFTRE. He has contributed workshops at EFTRE conferences (Malmo 2013, Dublin 2019) as well as board meetings (Seville 2011, Belfast 2012) on mindfulness and critical approaches to Religious Education.

United Kingdom: Wales

Phil Lord

Phil Lord is a trained Religious Education teacher who has led two successful secondary RE departments and worked as a valued RE advisor in three local authorities in North Wales. He currently supports two Standing Advisory Councils for RE (SACREs), supporting and advising on many aspects of RE.  He, two years, chaired the Welsh Association of SACREs at a time of great educational reform.

Phil is passionate about developing high quality and engaging opportunities for Religious Education and Collective Worship. Phil has worked with and created resources for pupils from the Foundation Phase through to Key Stage 5 including KS3 text books for CAA Aberystwyth University. As part of his role working for Local Authorities, Phil has worked extensively in the area of primary school improvement.