Belfast Telegraph

Keeping pupils apart is not preparing them for the reality of the workplace

By Lindsay Fergus

The results of the IEF report The Business of Education are hardly surprising – business leaders live in the real world.

Could you imagine having one company, manufacturing and exporting the same product, but where Protestants make components in one factory while Catholics make the same parts in another factory – both based within a stone's throw of each other?

Of course you couldn't – it is absurd. Not only would it be a duplication of infrastructure and resources and therefore financially unsound, but it would be morally and socially wrong.

So why then is that scenario the status quo in our education system?

Our further education colleges are desegregated, our universities are attended by people from both communities and our workplaces are integrated, yet primary and post-primary pupils are largely kept apart in separate institutions.

The only difference is their religion – their schools are funded the same and they are taught the same curriculum.

That is not preparing them for the reality of the workplace where people of all backgrounds work together for the benefit of their company.

And that is why 77% of business leaders believe a desegregated education system is the way forward for the Northern Ireland economy.

It is important that the voices of these people, whose companies are the cornerstone of our economy, are heard.

These are the visionaries who employ school leavers and who are competing in a global market where religion plays no part – just the skills and abilities of the workforce.

Unless such people are prepared to raise their head above the parapet, the status quo will remain.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph