Thursday, 25 November 2010

Proper integration means secular education.

In the interests of impartiality, how about a little praise for the DUP?  It’s pretty infrequently that there is cause to hand any out.  Still, the party has not yet reverted to type on the education issue.

Indeed when the Alliance party proposed a motion at Stormont calling on Caitriona Ruane to actively promote an integrated and shared education system in Northern Ireland, the DUP provided the backing needed to pass that motion.

Less worthy of applause, on this occasion, were the SDLP, Sinn Féin and, disappointingly, the UUP, who all backed an amendment seeking to water down the resolution.  The existing sectors should be encouraged to interact more, rather than amalgamate, according to the amendment.

The motion was passed without any alteration and rightly so.  The Belfast Agreement called for progress on integrating education and housing and the original motion is only a restatement of existing obligations which the Education Minister refuses to carry out.

Her preference is for a fragmented system and asking existing sectors to share a little, rather than properly integrate offers her a get out.  Actually the motion should have been much stronger and called for a genuinely secular, integrated state system.

It’s disappointing that three parties chose to be mealy mouthed about a commitment to shared education.


Andrew said...

I would like to see a move away from state education.

You're right though, integrated education does mean secular education.

Joanne said...

And religious instruction has no place in modern education. End of. If we want our children to have broad horizons as opposed to the 'closed' notions of the past, we will stop playing the sectarian headcount, which the present integration system does. Religious instruction should rightly take place outside school.

andrewg said...

I have long thought that we could learn something from the Americans in the matter of education. Northern Ireland has less in common with other European states (which in many cases were redrawn specifically to make them more religiously homogeneous) and more with the US - a country with an irreconcilable diversity of religious beliefs. Complete separation of church and state (including state education) is the only consistent basis for a divided society such as ours.