Integrated education to bear the brunt of political instability – Armstrong

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has said the integrated education sector will lose access to £450 million of investment if there is prolonged political instability after the election.

Kellie Armstrong said: “As part of the Fresh Start agreement, the UK Government promised £500 million over a 10 year period to support new capital projects for shared and integrated education which were approved by the Executive and Secretary of State.

“My understanding is that around £43 million was used last year and only around £3 million so far this year. I have met with the NIO and was assured that any capital projects they have already agreed will go ahead as planned. However, any delay in establishing a functioning Executive after the election will put at risk much needed funding to help meet the growing demand for integrated education.

“Surveys regularly show parents want their children educated in integrated schools. That is why I have been working on a Private Members Bill to promote and develop integrated education. If I am re-elected to the Assembly I will progress this Bill as quickly as possible.

“I am very disappointed that the Education Minister, Peter Weir, has conveyed to me his plans to publish the independent report into integrated education on the eve of the election. This is clear electioneering, as the report probably does not support his view of how our children should be educated. This is another example of the lack of transparency from this Executive, denying parents information on a subject that can impact on their children’s lives.

“Integrated education has been the poor relation for too long. The demand is clearly there. It is now up to the electorate to put back into office politicians who can work together for the benefit of all sections of the community, not just narrow vested interests.”

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