Parents back Obama on shared education

Published Monday, 24 June 2013
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A new survey has suggested two thirds of parents agree with President Obama's sentiments on the importance of shared education.

Parents back Obama on shared education
US President Barack Obama speaks during an event at the Belfast Waterfront Hall (© Getty)

The poll asked local families if they would support an increase in the number of integrated places in Belfast, from 4% to 33%.

The NI Council for Integrated Education says the results reflect the opinions expressed by US President Barack Obama in his speech at the Waterfront Hall last week.

"On 17 June, President Obama threw down a gauntlet to the young people of Belfast, urging them to take the steps necessary to secure a shared and peaceful society by moving beyond segregated housing and segregated education," said Noreen Campbell of NICIE.

"This survey shows overwhelming support for NICIE's proposals to increase the volume of integrated primary school places in the BELB area from 4% to 33% even though this will mean an offset reduction in places in the controlled and maintained sectors that might impact on their own local schools."

Four hundred parents in the BELB area took part in the survey.

Just over 80% said integrated education is a vital part of creating a shared future - while 72% believe that funding for integrated education should be prioritised.

During his address in Belfast, which came ahead of the G8 in Co Fermanagh, the US President spoke to an audience of young people about ending divisions.

Barack Obama said: "If towns remain divided - if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden - that too encourages division. It discourages co-operation."

He later visited Enniskillen Integrated Primary School with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Welcoming the outcome of Monday's survey, Ms Campbell added: "This poll gives voice to the parents of Belfast.

"The process of area based planning creates an opportunity for the voice of parents to be heard and for the development of a network of integrated schools to meet the stated demand for this type of education. This poll echoes the sentiments of President Obama and chimes with the public commitment to consolidating a peaceful society."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Einstein in Belfast wrote (515 days ago):
"if Catholics have their schools". The Church were right to take Obama to task over this "comment". He had to mention Catholic schools first - as if they were the problem. Catholic schools have educated their pupils to be hard working, respectful & decent human beings who have contributed greatly to this society (& others). My parents spoke about this subject when someone in the media mentioned it years ago. They were able to recall very vivildy & clearly, the day that the Men in Suits from the newly formed Ministry of Education at Stormont came to their Schools in the 20's & 30's - & identified & took all the Protestant children away from their schools - & set them up in the new Protestant school in Dungiven.
Mairead in South Derry wrote (516 days ago):
Sounds like a great idea until everyone falls out about which side of the sectarian divide ['peace walls']the schools should be built on.
katie in belfast wrote (516 days ago):
Sure it's the government that's holding this place back! of course we want shared education but the people you should really ask is the young people of this country what they want! I'm a protestant and would love for my two kids to have a shared education and so would they! Catholics and protestants meet up in town to hang about because you can't bring the other side into your area so if they get on that way then I don't see what the problem is with shared education.
Parent in Belfast wrote (516 days ago):
I agree with Peter in Magherafelt! Wise Up Obama!!! Integrated education is only an unrealistic solution to an unrealistic interpretation of the history of Northern Ireland and a smokescreen. If you want to integrate, tear down those so-called peace-walls and leave the children alone. Who were the parents who took part in this survey - and why did the survey operators not ask real people's opinion - instead of chosing parents who would back their viewpoint?
God in Cognito wrote (516 days ago):
Its the only way forward. All schools should be integrated and relgion banned from the syllabus. Only leads to bigots like you peter.
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