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Integrated education failure shames politics

I was horrified to read (News, February 7) that £47m of the £50m allocated by the Treasury to the Assembly for integrated and shared education had to be returned to Westminster because it had not been spent.

The Belfast Agreement advocated support for integrated education, but successive ministers for education have failed to act.

The Fresh Start Agreement repeated this obligation and the Treasury allocated £500m over 10 years for integrated and shared education.

The excuse given for not spending the allocation was that projects were still at the planning stage.

Anyone who, like myself, has been involved in trying to set up an integrated school knows the struggles involved in beating bureaucracy and securing funding.

Many integrated schools spend years in temporary buildings and mobiles, and funding for expansion is held up.

The Integrated Education Fund relies on generous donations from well-wishers from across the world.

Surely our outgoing DUP Minister for Education, if he wished to fulfil the promises made in the agreement, could have found ways to help the integrated sector with the £50m?

If we want to end our divided society, our children should grow up together, learning about and sharing all our cultures and beliefs.


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