The IEF is delighted to be able to congratulate Professor Alan Smith on being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Alan, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Education at Ulster University, was founding chair of the NI Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and a founder Trustee of the IEF, serving on the board from 1992-1999.
An East Belfast Protestant, his first involvement in integrated education came when he and his wife (a Catholic) were considering the type of education they wanted for their daughters; this led to engagement with local parents and eventually to the foundation of Mill Strand Integrated Primary School. With typical generosity, Alan said of those days:
“I became completely absorbed and overtaken by integrated education and the development of integrated education in many forms. I think for me, I learned more, I got more out of the involvement in integrated education than all that amount of time and commitment I put in it. It helped me develop as a person.”
Professor Smith has continued to research the role of education and schools in post-conflict societies. His expertise is built on international experience in many countries including Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Bosnia, Serbia and Hong Kong. He has worked for and with the British Council, UNICEF and the Council of Europe among others. Areas of study have included young people’s understanding of human rights and the development of social, civic and political education. His work led to the establishment of a £3 million programme in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy at the University of Ulster.
In recent years, he has examined the many aspects of division in the NI education system and explored policy changes which could lead to a more unified, integrated model.
Research from the UNESCO Centre, under Alan’s leadership, continues to inform and engage politicians and influencers on issues relating to the structure of school provision in Northern Ireland.
The Fund extends congratulations to Alan on being awarded an OBE for services to education.
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