6 Mar

Westminster Abbey memorial for Nelson Mandela stirred the soul

A blog by Ronan McCay, Campaign Fundraiser for the IEF

It was almost as cold inside Westminster Abbey as it was outside; the wintriest weather on what was supposed to be the first Monday of Spring. That mattered not, though, as I was privileged to be there for the memorial service celebrating the Nelson Mandela’ life and work. This was going to be an occasion to stir the soul – and it did not disappoint.

I was there on behalf of the Integrated Education Fund, invited by Dromore-born and raised Kathi Scott, the UK Executive Director of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and one of the IEF’s most passionate supporters. Education mattered hugely to President Mandela – he famously said it is the most powerful weapon at the disposal of those who want to change the world. At this event in his honour, it meant a great deal to me to be representing a campaign for positive change in education in Northern Ireland. (more…)

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5 Feb

Time for a secular education system in Northern Ireland?

By guest blogger Simon Worthington. 

Recently steps have been taken in Northern Ireland to try and integrate students from across Catholic and Protestant communities, the most celebrated being the Shared Campus initiative. Education is the key to unlocking a peaceful future for our country, however while it is encouraging to see our politicians make pro-active steps to advance integrated education, the creation of shared campuses is a flawed solution. Catholic and Protestant denomination schools will remain, with the shared campus only serving to provide further justification of perceived cross-community differences. (more…)

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18 Nov

A school with a view

By Kathleen Gormley, Principal of Hazelwood Integrated College

Imagine a school sheltered by Cavehill behind it and looking out over the two giant cranes of Harland and Wolff. Imagine arriving there early in the morning in time to see the orange glow as the city and Lough awaken.

Imagine two children coming to school together for their A results. One girl from the Shankill who wants to study Business and a Catholic boy who has been fostered all his life and wants to do social work – he wants to give something back. Then imagine their delight when they are told that their results mean their dream for 3rd level education has come true. (more…)

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5 Nov

We are all stakeholders

By Marie Cowan, Chair of the IEF and former principal of Oakgrove Integrated College

When the delivery of education is being discussed, the Northern Ireland Assembly needs to pay heed to the wishes of stakeholders.  I mean by this that politicians must acknowledge the concerns of the wider community and look at transforming the education system into one which is geared to the needs of our society.  Education is relevant to all of us; we are all stakeholders in education and we all have an interest in what the system delivers.

The current, highly-segregated education system in Northern Ireland comes at a heavy price. There are tens of thousands of empty desks and, in many schools, inadequate facilities, affecting our capacity to deliver education fit for the 21st Century. Yet public funds are being diverted away from the front line into maintaining separate institutions. (more…)

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23 Oct

Why education always needs to be centre stage

It is the season for Northern Ireland’s political parties to hold their conferences. These are events where parties can highlight their vision and plans designed to take Northern Ireland forward towards a secure future.

It was encouraging that at the UUP conference in Belfast, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt shone the conference spotlight on the party’s plans for education. (more…)

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24 Sep

“Preparing children in segregation is not preparing them for life”

Ryan Cairns, a pupil at Shimna Integrated College and a Member of the NI Youth Parliament, looks back at his life in integrated education:

Integrated Education has put me in a bubble. Whilst some might take that statement as a severe negative, I disagree. I think it has been the best environment for me to grow up in.

My education began, by way of happy coincidence rather than political decision, in All Children’s Integrated Primary in Newcastle. My mother and my aunts had already attended the school, so the decision for me to attend was a natural one. I had an absolute blast and made friends for life. Never once did I feel that my or anyone else’s faith was being stamped down either. We were put through the holy sacraments of Confession and Confirmation just the same as anywhere else. (more…)

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