Right to integrated education must be assured

Alliance Party Education Spokesperson Jayne Dunlop has demanded the Government follow up on its words about integrated education, by taking action to ensure all parents who seek integrated education have access to it. Her comments come ahead of a visit to Northern Ireland next week by former US Education Secretary Richard Riley.

The party’s Ballymena representative stated: “The first thing that strikes many visitors to Northern Ireland is that we have a divided society, and that those divisions are supported by a divided education system.

“An increasing number of parents have turned to the integrated sector – only to be frustrated by the lack of school places. The Government says that segregated education is unsustainable, and yet any parent wanting a place for their child in a segregated school, even if it is half empty, is guaranteed one. Unfortunately the same guarantee does not apply to parents seeking integrated education.

“Anyone with a genuine commitment to human rights will recognize fundamentally that those parents seeking an integrated place for their child must be guaranteed one.

“It is shameful that parents have to fund their own schools when all they are seeking is the chance to have children from different backgrounds, educated together. But we should not be surprised when other political parties refuse to support even the principle of a shared educational future for our children.

“Integrated education is a political issue, and only the Alliance Party can be relied upon to stick up for it.”

Education conferences are taking place over the next week in Dundalk, Limavady and Belfast.


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