Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Integrated education is first stepping stone to ending segregated communities

The Green Party in Northern Ireland has called for a more robust strategy to extend integrated education provision in Northern Ireland.

Green Party Spokesperson Clare Bailey said: “Integrated education is the primary stepping stone to eradicating segregation and sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

“Schools are for educating our children in the National Curriculum, whereas churches are for fostering a religious and spiritual ethos.

“It is not surprising we still have such a divided society in 2013 when we still have young people in Northern Ireland who do not meet or even interact on a regular basis with people from other communities until they reach work or university.

“If we want a new Northern Ireland, then we need a new inclusive and shared education system.

“There are many parents crying out for this provision as evidenced by the current oversubscription of integrated schools.

“If we are serious about a shared future and serious about cohesion and integration, then we need to get serious about eradicating division and segregation.

“By not addressing the issue of integrated education as a top priority, we are continuing the institutionalisation of sectarianism and division.

“Setting targets for integrated education is welcomed, however, it does not go far enough since in the last 32 years only 62 integrated schools have been set up in Northern Ireland so how can parents have true parental choice?

“Every pupil and their parents should have the option of attending an integrated school in their geographical area.

“It is very disappointing that the new ESA Board does not have representatives from the integrated sector.

“What we do have is a board dominated by the two political and religious ideological blocks charged encouraging and facilitating the development of integrated education in Northern Ireland despite it being against their best interests to do so.

“The Green Party wants to see a fully shared and integrated society rather than the promotion of division.

“This is only going to happen when education, housing and culture are not divided by state-institutionalized sectarianism.”

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