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Backing shared education vital for our society

The 1998 Agreement made it a statutory duty of the devolved government to encourage and support integrated education; this must be the first priority.

In poll after poll, a large majority of parents state that they would like their children to go to integrated schools. Children in integrated schools not only grow up mixing with children of different religious and racial backgrounds, but they learn of each other's cultural backgrounds.

I feel this is of utmost importance in working towards a genuinely shared society and in ending sectarian divisions.

Children should learn of our British and Irish inheritance and appreciate and adopt the best in both (as well as the best from other countries). The present Assembly will not even allow our teachers to train together.

Shared schools might eventually lead to a less divided society, but the present proposal for shared campuses will only accentuate the differences - children in different uniforms going in the same gate, but then dividing into separate schools as if they might contaminate each other.

MARGARET MARSHALL

Belfast

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