Clare Bailey MLA has said that the contribution of integrated education to peace building can’t be overstated.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2019 may have alluded the Integrated Education Fund but Clare Bailey MLA says that the contribution of integrated education to peace building will never be doubted.
The leader of the Green Party NI was one of the first intake of 28 pupils at Lagan College, Northern Ireland’s first integrated education fund. Clare recalls:
“My first day at Lagan College as an 11 year old was marked by protests and armed police guards. Today, the situation has shifted – the peace process is ongoing and there are 62 grant aided integrated schools across Northern Ireland.
“However, only seven percent of Northern Ireland’s children attend integrated schools at present. This is despite academic research showing that integrated education reduces prejudice, increases children’s understanding of diversity and nurtures and improves community relations.
“The opposition to integrated education remains. It is more subtle than protestors outside a school but the lobby for segregation remains strong and is well motivated to maintain the status quo.
“Conflict transformation is an ongoing process and it must be said that we are taking backward steps at present. However, the contribution to peace building of the integrated education sector is huge and should not be forgotten now our story is being heard.”
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