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Integrated schools key to peaceful future

An open letter to the Stormont political parties

On behalf of the Integrated Education Fund, I want to wish you and all the participants well as political leaders enter the latest stage of talks at Stormont.

We at the fund would like to take this opportunity to respectfully remind all parties of the hopes of Northern Ireland for a genuinely shared future for all generations and of the past government pledges regarding a united community.

The Together: Building a United Community document acknowledges the central role that education can play in helping to deliver this.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged the Government to do more to tackle the segregated education system in Northern Ireland.

The Panel on Paramilitaries, set up under the Fresh Start Agreement, recommended more progress towards integrated education to counter the toxic influence of sectarianism and a silo mentality in single-identity areas.

Surveys have shown that the majority of citizens in Northern Ireland see integrated education as an important part of maintaining peace.

Our own research with young people in Northern Ireland shows that more than 80% agree that educating children of all faiths and none in the same schools would be an important step in combating sectarianism.

The wider Northern Ireland community is hoping for positive outcomes from these talks and we would like to encourage our political representatives to bear this aspiration in mind and work to make progress for the benefit of all citizens.

Marie Cowan

Chair, Integrated Education Fund

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