Workers Party representative in North Belfast, Gemma Weir, has criticised plans by Education Minister John O’Dowd to present a ‘Shared Education’ Bill to the Assembly.
‘Shared education sustains division’ Gemma said. ‘It is firmly embedded in ‘two communities’ politics and does nothing to bring about a truly integrated society’.
‘The Good Friday Agreement was very clear that the Assembly had a responsibility to ‘…facilitate and encourage integrated education…’
Today’s proposal ignores that commitment and seeks to substitute integrated education for a shared model based on a ‘separate but equal’ approach’, she said.
Invisible ‘peace’ walls
Promoting shared education instead of integrated education is akin to building invisible ‘peace’ walls between yet another generation of our school children’, Gemma added.
‘Shared Education is nothing more than a political fig leaf to justify the continued segregation of our children into religious and political tribes and offers no alternative to those parents who want more for their children’, she said.
‘It is quite clear that the future of education in Northern Ireland is too important to leave in the hands of the Assembly. Only an independent commission can properly assess and report on how we can progressively reform our current failed structures’, concluded Gemma.