Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Elitist education is not the way to get results

I have to admit that I was left infuriated last week when Danny Kinahan, UUP vice-chair of the Assembly's education committee, was quoted in your paper stating that despite supporting the principle of 'shared education' he would want grammar and non-selective pupils "to be kept separate so they can learn as much as they can" – Belfast Telegraph, October 24.

This ill-informed nonsense is indicative of the vacuous educational discourse associated with the UUP currently, yet increasingly I feel that our local media are unwilling to challenge such blatant elitism and social snobbery.

It is surely in the public's interest that an ideologue such as Mr Kinahan, and indeed any would-be champion of educational segregation and elitism, is challenged to put forward cogent and well researched evidence to support such displays of absurdity.

Surely they must have at least one case where segregation and division leads to high educational outcomes for the greatest number of pupils.

Nearly half a century ago, the ground-breaking Coleman Report concluded that whilst it was necessary to tackle racial segregation in schools across the USA, it was essential to educational outcomes that socio-economic segregation was also ended.

In the north of Ireland in 2013 we must bear this in mind; for if segregation by religion is wrong, how can segregation by income be right?

Chris Hazzard MLA

Sinn Féin education spokesperson

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