Belfast Telegraph

Robinson climbdown a sad day for future of our children

Editor's Viewpoint

There is bound to be some disquiet at the DUP’s decision to change its policy and to try to remove the special status for integrated schools and also Irish language schools. This is very bad news for supporters of integrated education, and it represents a remarkable climbdown by First Minister Peter Robinson after his powerful speech at the La Mon Hotel in 2010.

The new attitude of Mr  Robinson and the DUP could be seen as regrettable because all the supporters of integrated education ever wanted was for the rules to be made easier, and the obstacles removed to the establishment of these schools, which remain popular.

Whatever people’s views on education, and whether in this day and age we should have State and Catholic schools, it is obvious that this new, soft and touchy-feely world of shared education is little more than a sham that is supported by elements in academia and powerful benefactors.

Shared education is a fine-sounding concept, but it can mean as much or as little as people want it to mean.

Even the proposed shared campuses will do little more than underline the divisions, whereas integrated education provides what it claims to offer, namely the education of the children in the classroom together.

Whatever the reason for the DUP’s apparent U-turn and lack of further support for integrated education, all the party’s talk about “listening to people” should be taken with a pinch of salt.

For those who believe that our children should be educated together, this is a sad day indeed. Northern Ireland seems incapable in so many ways of moving on from its divisions, and the fad of shared education will not solve the problem of our children being divided.

Perhaps there needs to be a once-and-for-all Patten-style commission on the future of education in this country.

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