Church opposes integration in education…

THE Government’s ‘shared future’ policy has come under attack from the Catholic Church, which believes that integration would undermine the Catholic ethos in education. While the Church may regard integrated education as “offensive”, demand for it is nevertheless growing, and while no Catholic child is ever likely to be denied a place at a Catholic school, hundreds of children are denied places at integrated schools every year. Despite its own policy, the Government’s support for mixed education is at best half-hearted, so maybe the Church has little to worry about anyway.From the Irish News:

Bishop warns of ‘offence’ to school system
16/06/2006

By Maeve Connolly

A senior bishop has warned that government descriptions of the school system as segregated has “offensive” overtones for the Catholic sector.

Bishop of Down and Connor Patrick Walsh was speaking at St Mary’s University College in west Belfast last night as he presented religious education certificates to graduating teachers.

He said they were entering the profession at a time of “great uncertainty” and expressed concern at government policies on a ‘shared future’.

“In ministerial statements, including statements from the secretary of state, there is constant reference to education being segregated,” he said.

“There are overtones in that word ‘segregation’ which we in the Catholic sector find offensive.”

Dr Walsh insisted that the strong religious identity of Catholic schools had “so much to offer for the common good”.

Although successive education ministers had assured the ethos of schools would not be diluted, the bishop said government documents on a shared future did not appear to support this when they talked of parallel

services being “unsustainable both morally and economically”.

Bishop Walsh said parents had the right to choose a school which would help them pass on their religion to their children and this right must be respected and facilitated by government.

“In statements on a shared future there are references to political identity, to cultural identity – one has to search very hard to find a reference to religious identity,” he said.

“And it is precisely on the basis of religious identity that we have the Catholic school sector.”

He added that St Mary’s College was “integral” to the Catholic sector and that single-faith schools and universities are not “closed in” on themselves.

“We are committed to a shared future, to working with our educational partners for the common good, to sharing with others from the richness of our tradition and to be enriched from the traditions of others.”

  • Brenda

    Bishop walsh is right.

  • Millie

    I’ve never really understood their objections, exactly how do you teach maths, english or science with a ‘catholic ethos’?

  • D’Holbach

    Methinks Bishop Walsh doth protest too much! With 95% of children being educated in either de facto Catholic schools or de facto Protestant schools, I would have thought it was accurate to describe the education system as “segregated”.

    As a Humanist I respect the right of others to hold to their belief systems but I don’t think that the state should have to pay for single-faith schools and universities.

  • Brenda

    DON’T GO JUMPING ON ME WHEN I SAY THIS.

    But in school I always remember the nuns telling us that catholic schools produced more people to work in the caring professions rather than protestant schools. They always maintained that their religion provided more understanding, and caring people than their protestant counterparts. ie lots of organisations in the schools where they helped people outside schools – stuff like that.

    Well you asked, so I am only telling you what I was told of course that wasn’t yesterday, perhaps they know differently now.

  • martin

    Ithink the sooner we get those members of the ccms against a wall the better for all, religion is for the monkeys, I know kids who have no “faith ” who had to betray their principlies just to get a job teaching , communism has nothing on the catholic church and the ccms

  • Crataegus

    Someone explain to me the difference between having a school system based on religion and the institutionalisation of segregation.

    Is the Catholic Church best placed to have a dispassionate view on this?

    I don’t see what they have to fear this government is not going to do anything to rock the boat.

    Perhaps the rest of us should learn from this and set up schools for atheists, Buddhists, Zoroastrians etc. and while we are at it what about teaching thought the medium of Chinese or Portuguese. With all the immigration must be enough to have the odd Greek Orthodox school and there are definitely enough Muslims. Heck there is that strange school in Holywood lets fund that while we are at it.

    Am I the only one that thinks this way leads madness? When does the wish of parents become their responsibility and not the states? At what level do we have to say enough and NO.

    My background is not Christian and I went through state schools and indeed in the Primary School the Priest came in to take religious instruction for Catholics because there wasn’t a Catholic School as did the local Church of Ireland vicar. I sat in the corner and read Treasure Island, good deal all round I think and it was about the only thing in that school that worked.

    The ethos of most religions seem similar to me, you behave yourself, don’t murder anyone, leave your neighbours wife alone and most importantly don’t steal anyone’s donkey. Some religions have a more fundamental belief in the interrelationship of all things, but basically they are a set of codes of conduct and each has strengths and weaknesses. I can’t see a catholic ethos being that alarmingly different from a Church of Ireland one or Presbyterians that different from say Muslims. But them perhaps that is where the fear lies in discovering we are not that unique?

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Perhaps the rest of us should learn from this and set up schools for atheists, Buddhists, Zoroastrians etc. and while we are at it what about teaching thought the medium of Chinese or Portuguese. With all the immigration must be enough to have the odd Greek Orthodox school and there are definitely enough Muslims. Heck there is that strange school in Holywood lets fund that while we are at it.

    Am I the only one that thinks this way leads madness?

    Yes, it’s just you 🙂

    The Republic has all the different types of schools you mention and more. There’s an Islamic and a German school round the corner from one another in Clonskeagh, Dublin. People have to be allowed to follow their own path even if “society” thinks they’re mad. Forcing all creeds and backgrounds into one uniform system isn’t the way to promote understanding. “Tolerance” means accepting that everyone has the right to be different, not trying to shoe-horn everyone into the same mould so that differences become less.

    If there’s enough parents in a locality to make a school with a particular ethos/emphasis/religion viable, let them at it, with State support. Whatever floats their boats. And the State has a duty to ensure all children are educated.

    The State shouldn’t care what ethos a school wants to promote. Minimum pupil numbers and meeting core curricula requirements, that’s all the State should be concerned with.

    I often feel this debate touches on some fundamental psychological/philosophical barrier between nationalist and unionist Ireland. There might be something important in that.

  • lib2016

    As usual there’s a shortage of advocates for a policy of trusting the people. Let the parents decide – and an increasing number of them are deciding in favour of state schools.

    I understand that there is already provision for a majority of the parents whose children attend any state school to demand that the school become part of the ‘integrated’ system. If that is so then hopefully we will see demographic change being followed by change in the schools in a gradual agreed manner, just as it should happen.

    In the meantime and within reasonable limits I don’t see any reason why my views, or anyone else’s should be allowed to dictate how children should be educated.

    In the late 1800’s De Valera was forced to teach ‘God Save the Queen’ in the National school system of the time and we should beware of following a similar path by dictating how other people’s children are educated.

  • Crataegus

    Ciaran

    The problem I have with that current is firstly the cost. In the South does the state or the parents pay? In the North I have seen half empty schools and new ones being built next door, it’s an appalling waste of money. Secondly the more fragmented the system the greater the difficulty at secondary level to offer some subject choice. There is a third problem should minorities who are not in sufficient numbers to have their own school be forced into schools that are so blatantly identified with one group because there are no other schools in the vicinity?

    France is a catholic country are the schools there denominational?

    Do we carry this concept further and have faith based hospitals, for if ever there was a time when you are close to the maker? What about the legal system should there not be a separate slant on the judgements?

    I often feel this debate touches on some fundamental psychological/philosophical barrier between nationalist and unionist Ireland.

    You may be right there; some more than others need to band together and reinforce their pack identity perhaps? Or do they see themselves separate and better? Why would you want to narrow your children’s field of experience? Fear of others, distain for others, a feeling of superiority, to ensure they are identified as belonging to that tribe, pier pressure? What? Its not as if the teaching methods are radically different so what reason?

  • Brenda

    Well why is it so bad to band together to reinforce a ‘pack’ identity, ? People are different, and have been all thru the ages, we were made that way. I don’t get your point re France. Do they have demononational schools there, I don’t know but in secular/protestant Britain they do, whether muslim, catholic CoE whatever, and basically the principle put forward by the OP is correct – are they so fundamentally different. I don’t think so.

    Taking up again your point re France, should we force people into schools where they feel different, they are in france, and we had in the news the carry on over the head dresses by some muslims in state schools,

    So imo state schools altho uniform are not the answer to every thing. Yes we do have faith hospitals, even in the north, the main one I can think of is the Mater in north belfast. Loads thru out the republic, all similar, all offering medical treatment, but still there is a semblance of faith. I know in England I have heard of faith hospitals, perhaps CoE, I’m not sure, but they are there.

    National identity, faith identity, is important to a lot of people, not to seperate but a feeling of belonging to a group, not a pack.

    I fail to see what is wrong with it, unless of course what they are offering is a sub standard education and that is not the case. Neither do I believe they institutionalise sectarianism. That in my opinion is a N Irish war cry.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Ah, the old cost canard. Doesn’t wash. Sorry.

    The State has a duty to ensure children are educated to a certain standard. End of story. What sort of school, what religious ethos, whether the school places and emphasis on music or art or science or Chinese or the teaching of Bob The Celestial Washing-machine Repairman shouldn’t concern the State in the slightest, as long as the kids are receiving the core curriculum to the national standard.

    I don’t care if a group of hard working taxpaying citizens want to get their children together and educate them in a school that worships Daniel O’Donnell as the Second Coming. No skin off my nose.

    Why do you care? Seriously? What’s the problem? Live and let live, man.

    And as in the Republic, there will always be plenty of strictly non-denominational schools to go round. In fact when I was a teenager, the single largest secondary school in the Republic was the non-denominational Carndonagh Community School in Donegal.

    Unionists need to take some chill pills, get over this image of Catholics as the Borg “indoctrinating” the “herd” in Catholic schools, and learn to just let people do what they like, even if you disagree. Trying to shoe-horn everyone into bland Union-friendly conformity will be resisted, you know.

  • Here in the US, religious schools are not supported by the State and Catholic parochial schools are charging increasing tuitions, e.g. $4,000 per year for our local parish elementary school and around $6,000 per year for high schools.

    Certain state-funded services are provided, e.g bus transportation and some special educational services for children with various problems. But, for the normal child, services are not provided — with the notable exception of bus transportation. e.g. for my grandaughter who will be bussed to our local parish school through 3rd grade since the family lives more than 1/2 mile from the school.

    Private schools are required to meet the core curriculum standards of the State (education is primarily a function of State and even local government). But, some are questioning whether or not it is wise to give the government total control of the schools, i.e. a state monopoly on education. Another viewpoint is that some competition keeps the government schools on their toes

    Though the picture is changing, the public, i.e. government. schools were commonly regarded as failures and still have problems. But, it seems that the idea that schools should be run for the benefit of the students, rather than for the benefit of teachers and administrators seems to be catching on again, a quiet revolution encouraged by some Federal initiatives on the part of the Bush Administration some years ago.

    In general, it seems to me that educatgion is much more decentralized here in the US, e.g. here in a county with about the same population as NI, we have some 50 school districts under local control for the public system. All are bound to meet curriculum stanfdards set by the State, but, after that, there is room for a LOT of diversity. Though the State does subsidize the local districts, the local school boards can and do levy property taxes to pay for most of the school budgets.

    And, still, Catholic and Jewish schools flourish even though both Catholics and Jews pay local school taxes and then contribute to the support of the religious schools.

    Last but not least, though religious values are basically taught in the home, many Cathooic and Jewish familues are willing to pay that these same values are taught and reinforced in the schools their children attend.

    As Ciaran says “whatever floats your boat”

  • I was educated in a Catholic school in the South – now I’m one of the most fervent advocates for integrated schooling you’ll find, but not because of my own school. How can you expect any understanding in the North when kids are not only separated in where they live but where they learn. If you’re waiting until they go to work/college it’s too late then – the “Fenian bastard/Orange bastard” biases will be ingrained.

    As for the Catholic ethos in education – the Courts are full of the results, and in the South the public purse is paying the price.

    As for the duplication of facilities – try Ontario where French Public, English Public, English Catholic and French Catholic are completely separate school boards.

    http://www.osstf.on.ca/www/links/districtschoolboards.html

  • Bishop Walsh said parents had the right to choose a school which would help them pass on their religion to their children and this right must be respected and facilitated by government

    I agree with Bishop Walsh 100%

    I am grateful for the education that I recieved, without the Catholic ethos it just wouldn’t have been as good.

    The simple fact remains that most of the best schools in the North are Catholic schools and this comes from the emphasis that the Catholic community (I hate that phrase but it would be wrong to use Nationalist/Republican)has placed on education.

  • George

    Crataegus,
    in the Republic, education is the only social right enshrined in the constitution.

    The State is the number two in this area though.
    It is for the parents of the child to decide how they want their children to be educated and it is for the State to “provide” the “primary” education of the child, so long as a minimum standard is reached.

    A state provides for its citizens, it doesn’t mould them.

    So Dublin was the first city in the European Union to have a state-funded muslim school. But the children learn Irish as well as the Koran.

    It isn’t as easy as Ciaran Irvine thinks though. A Steiner school failed to get funding because they wanted to “deviate” too far from the national curriculum and I think they didn’t have government trained teachers either.

    But if you fill these criteria you could open a Scientology primary school if you wanted and the State would have to fund it.

    Equally, if parents want their children educated in Catholic or Protestant schools then the State should provide for it.

    If not, then the State should provide for that option too. Cost doesn’t come into it.

    On forcing children into a school their parents don’t want them to go to, the Supreme Court has ruled such an action as unconstitutional.

    However, the caveat is you either have to educate your children at home or find like-minded souls to help set up a school.

    But in reality, things work out differently. My Lutheran work colleague sends his two children to the local Sacred Heart school in Cork.

    Why? It’s the best school in the area and when he went there the Catholic principal said he would do anything he asked to ensure the children received the education he wanted.

    He trusts the school and off they trot each morning. As far as I know, they haven’t gone over to the dark side yet.

  • Crataegus

    Ciaran

    What bothers me is setting up a system that ensures division. In a place like NI we all have to make the effort.

    If the parents at Rudolf Steiner have to finance the school why should any other group be treated in a more preferential manner? The separate systems are a terrible waste of money, money which is needed in areas where children are under achieving. Finance is a serious issue.

    On the question of separate schools I assume you would have no disagreement towards a system that subsidised boarding schools. If religious segregation is OK why stop there.

    I thought education was about giving all our children as good and as equal an opportunity as we can. We really don’t have resources to waste on matters which are peripheral to education.

  • George

    sorry,
    “provide” should read “provide for”. (Big difference as the former would imply state control.)

  • Garibaldy

    Having a state funded muslim, or any other religious, school is nothing to be proud of

  • Crataegus

    George

    Thanks for the clarification of the South our posts crossed.

    But what puzzles me is why children can’t go to the same school and why on earth can a school not accommodate the different beliefs? Surely that is fairer for all. Think about it why should your Lutheran friends children be the odd ones out? Do you not think the system patronising: sure we will look after your kids as though they were one of our own!! I know what it’s like myself, at school I was regarded as somewhat odd, but I have a thick skin and had a fearsome right hook and propensity to kick other children are more sensitive.

    Algebra, Physics and Chemistry don’t have a religious slant so are we setting up schools to educate children or to shore up religious belief. Faith is separate from education but an understanding of various faiths is an important aspect of a rounded education.

    It makes absolutely no sense to me, but I tend towards the practical.

  • Betty Boo

    In Germany primary schools have religion like any other subject. When you sign your child in you cross the square with your preferred religion.

    You go to your catholic lesson and you to your protestant lesson and I get to watch a video since I’m an atheist.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Crataegus, I’ve already said I consider the cost argument to be bogus. True tolerance of diversity and ensuring all children get educated in the environment their parents prefer is worth some additional cost.

    “Cost” always gets trotted out in this argument. It also gets trotted out on things as diverse as the Saville Inquiry and funding for the arts. As a rule of thumb, I tend to take the view that anyone who is arguing against something on grounds of “cost” is usually trying to conceal their real reasons under a veneer of respectability. It’s my rule of thumb, it generally serves me well, and that’s why trying the cost route with me will get you nowhere, no matter what your motives (and you could indeed be genuinely concerned about it, I’m not saying one way or the other, just saying why I generally dismiss the argument out of hand)

    Maybe you believe education is purely about priming kids with the skills they need to be productive workers, and nothing else. If we are to stop resources being “wasted” on matters “peripheral” to education, then should the schools stop teaching music, art and PE? Education is about a lot more than just learning-by-rote. And the more people we have from different backgrounds educated in different environments and in schools with many a different ethos, the more well-rounded and colourful society is, and the better chance we have of always finding someone with the unique mix of talents and insight to solve any problem that crops up.

    I’m intensely suspicious of arguments advocating One True Education System. Advocating One True Anything tends to irritate me. I also suspect, and forgive me but I’ll be very blunt here, that most of the blether about the evils of segregated schooling generally stems from one source: Protestant paranoia about the HiveMind Of Rome brainwashing little Caflicks to grow up Disloyal.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Plus, you seem to be thinking that I’m advocating all schools being religious.

    I’m not. I’m saying that if the demand is there and the school meets the national curriculum, then the system should cater for schools of whatever kind you fancy. Some of the might be religious-based. Some of them might place heavy emphasis on particular languages. Some of them might be multi-denominational, or strictly secular. Some of them might be obsessed with music, or science. Who cares?

    Seriously, why care? And don’t give me guff about cost, nor about the “special circumstances” of the north. The answer to rampant sectarianism in the north is not to bludgeon people together and hope they learn to get along, but to promote genuine acceptance and tolerance for difference. Youse have to learn to accept that some people have different beliefs and cultures and lifestyles and this is a good thing, not a cause of fear and hate. Abolishing schools that don’t fit in with the Official notion of what is “proper” isn’t going to do that.

    At the end of the day, do you trust the people to get on with things in whatever way seems good to them; or do you want an authoritarian State forcing people into Officially Approved schools?

  • Garibaldy

    Ciaran,

    The Yanks, for their many faults, integrate their schools for the good of society, busing people in if necessary. Is that authoritarian? Or is it sensible and necessary?

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Garibaldy: totally different context! The Americans are doing what they are doing after generations of enforced segregation in the schools. Remember all that civil rights carry-on in the 60s?

    If the demand is there, and it is, there will be plenty of mixed, secular, and multi-denominational schools. I think it’s quite funny that people are trying to pretend that a free policy will somehow lead magically to mixed schools being banned or disappearing or some such.

    This notion that enforcing integrated education for everyone is some sort of magic-wand solution for the north’s sectarianism is just nonsense.

    Have integrated (deliberately mixed) schools. Have secular schools. Have faith-based schools. Have science schools.

    Where’s the problem?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I’m intensely suspicious of arguments advocating One True Education System.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find an integrated education supporter who would deny children a right to an education in a school with a religious ethos.

    However, the opposite is not true.

    if the demand is there and the school meets the national curriculum, then the system should cater for schools of whatever kind you fancy

    Exactly. The demand for IE is there, but the system doesn’t cater for it.

  • George

    Crataegus,
    Lutherans are thin on the ground in north Cork so there isn’t a Lutheran school. My friend could send his children to a non-denominational school though. Or he could set up his own Lutheran school and look for state funding. A most unlikely scenario if you ever met him.

    However, the crux is that the best school by far near where he lives is Catholic so he has had to make a choice of whether to send his children there or to a non-denominational one.

    He went to check it out and was so shocked with the accommodating response from the school that he signed them in. He wasnt’ expecting to send them there but the locals recommended it to him. That’s how it seems to be working in the Republic these days.

    My aetheist brother is sending his children to a Protestant primary and a Catholic secondary school for the same reason.

  • Garibaldy

    Gonzo,

    Not that hard pressed to find someone who would ban religious schooling if possible.

    Ciaran,

    I don’t think integrated education is a panacea. Far from it. Their are tales of at least one integrated school having catholic and protestant toilets, although that came from someone from the catholic school sector. Integrated housing etc would be needed too to totally defeat sectarianism. However, integrated education is a good first step, which I support for numerous reasons – I believe properly funded and well run comprehensives are in the best interests of the children and society.

    The US situation is different, yet it still happens today. Cries of totalitarianism are nonsense.

    As my comment for Gonzo above suggests, I believe in a totally secular state in every country, not just NI.

  • taxpayer

    Why should the taxpayer be expected to foot the bill for this outdated, sectarian and divisive teaching system ???. Should our children not be educated together so they can learn about each other ?

  • D’Holbach

    Bishop Walsh says “We are committed to a shared future, to working with our educational partners for the common good, to sharing with others from the richness of our tradition and to be enriched from the traditions of others.” I have heard similar sentiments from Protestant clergy who are Transferor Representatives on the Boards of Controlled schools. If they really mean this, why can’t they commit to genuinely shared institutions? Or is it all about CONTROL?

  • Rory

    God this is so depressing. In south east England a house which lies within the catchment area of a Catholic school will increase the value of that property by as much as 20% (that means around £40k at current average prices in the region). This is not because there is suddenly a mad influx of Irish, or indeed French, Italian, Spanish or Mauritian into the region or that Catholics are once more “breeding like rabbits” but because of the record of academic attainment.

    If there were to be a Holy Cross like attack on a Catholic school in the leafy lanes of Herts or Bucks it is the mased ranks of defiantly protective estate agents and money lenders that the hostiles would face. Enough to break the nerve of a Zulu warrior.

  • The Protestant schools in the South are heavily subsidized. Indeed, the Portrstants in the south are the world’s most pampered society ever. In hte ocntext of the Norht, like Ireland or Victoria Australia in the 19th century, state education is designed to make chldren that they were born a little English boy.

  • Crataegus

    Ciaran

    The Catholic church has been about for about two millennia and will probably be about for the next two no matter what we do here. No one is for one moment suggesting that there should be no religious education, merely that the schools should be acceptable to all. Why can’t we bring up a generation together who understand and respect their differences? It isn’t my personal favourite solution, and it probably isn’t the first choice for Muslims or Presbyterians, but why can’t we all give a little and accommodate each other and move forward together?

    The problem I have with the system that you propose is minorities and their isolation within the overall scheme. The Hindu in Dungannon then has to go to a school that is overtly Christian or the Catholic in Rathcoole (if there still is any) ends up somewhere where they stand out like a sore thumb. I have been in that position myself and can see how some children could have problems.

    On other threads I have consistently said I believe the priority in education is tackling the problems of under achievement. We have children leaving school who are illiterate that is the priority not setting up and funding different systems for every conceivable grouping in the country. In this context it is a sin to take resources and squander them because of our own personal preference. That is how strongly I feel about it and the reason if you are curious is because I was one of the few children to pass the 11 plus from the primary school I went to. The people I went to school with were not stupid they were simply expected to fail. I see that same ethos in state and catholic inner city schools today. Schools where the children don’t even take the 11 plus.

    George
    I know where you and Ciaran are coming from, but how can I put it? Faith Schools are for those of a faith? But because they are there others who are in small minorities have to be accommodated or equally because the school has a good reputation those of other religions are sent there of choice. If that is possible then why not have schools that accommodate all equally? Secondly imagine the position where two pupils one Catholic and another non want to go to the school and it is over subscribed which has priority? Indeed how far do some pupils have to travel to school?

    As the diversity of our society increases the problems multiply. The more we try to accommodate diversity the more we disadvantage others. The system favours dominant religious groupings and places others at a distinct disadvantage. Again imagine greater fragmentation could the schools not also lead to settlement patterns where houses are purchased based on schools provision? Imagine that the Muslin community (stress just an example) start to settle around their Mosques and schools at what stage does the Christians of that area start to feel isolated? In a NI context can you not see that this is potentially toxic.

    D’Holbach

    Well put.

    Rory

    I live more in central London than I do in Belfast let us not start on the short comings of the comprehensive system in England and the reason why faith schools are popular. The real farce is the schools are often full of pupils whose parents have no connection with the church or any real active belief. A tad hypocritical if you ask me.

    The problems in Camden are quite different than those in NI. We all have to try to break the circle of separation and division. Surely we can do it and create great educational opportunities for all our children?

    Taigs

    Indeed, the Protestants in the south are the world’s most pampered society ever.

    I thought last week it was the scroungers North of the border, what’s changed in the last week? Why are we demoted?

  • Ciaran Irvine

    The Catholic church has been about for about two millennia and will probably be about for the next two no matter what we do here. No one is for one moment suggesting that there should be no religious education, merely that the schools should be acceptable to all.

    Sorry, but this just confirms my suspicion that this whole “debate” is being driven, even if subconsciously, by residual paranoia about the Romish HiveMind….

    The problem I have with the system that you propose is minorities and their isolation within the overall scheme. The Hindu in Dungannon then has to go to a school that is overtly Christian or the Catholic in Rathcoole (if there still is any) ends up somewhere where they stand out like a sore thumb

    With respect, this is the second or third time I’ve had to pull you on this. You are continuing to peddle the line that the system I advocate will somehow lead to the near-extinction of multi-denominational or secular schools. That’s just plain wrong. Gonzo admitted earlier that the existing system in the north is actively preventing the growth of integrated or secular schools. An open system will allow them to flourish.

    Trust the people. And accept that people will continue to believe in all sorts of mad stuff, it’s their right to, and a truly tolerant society allows them to get on with it in their own way, not attempt to artificially pretend that everyone is “really the same deep down if they’d only realise it”.

    I’ve not read anything on this thread that has made me question my position in the slightest. On the contrary, I’m hearing a lot of barely-concealed Fear Of The Other.

  • McGrath

    My biggest issue is the taxpayer is funding a system that ingrains fear between my children and your children.

    I stood on one side of the street to go to “our” school, they stood on the other side of the street to go to “their” school. One day, I walked across the street and said, hello.

    I have had lifelong friends because of that. I just know that if children in NI were taught together, the distrust and fear would end.

    Who stands to lose the most from integrated (normal) education? The Catholic Church.

    If parents are so concerned about the religious education of their children, then let them take responsibility for it, instead of having the state (you and I) pay for it.

  • kensei

    “If parents are so concerned about the religious education of their children, then let them take responsibility for it, instead of having the state (you and I) pay for it.”

    Ok. If I do that, can I have a rebate on my taxes then? Or must I pay for your child’s education?

  • Loyalist

    No church or sect should have a hand in the education of children. Period. That applies to the Holy and Apostolic Church of Rome and the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster equally.

  • kensei

    “No church or sect should have a hand in the education of children. Period.”

    Why?

  • Democratic

    With respect to the pro-segregration posters as I shall call them (the pro-choice tag I believe is already taken!)- there is of course a valid point to make about their human right of choice for their childrens’ education and for the quality of Catholic education in general – but for me from a Northern Ireland perspective I cannot understand why anyone could deny that a fully integrated education system would forge new links and friendships between those living either side of the political/religious divide while they can still be reached in their younger years – it simply stands to reason for me.
    Another poster asked not to be given guff about NI’s unique situation on this issue(?!) – where I think the whole point of the story appearing on the site is to examine it in light of the unique Northern Ireland situation – so unfortunately some guff about the divide here is unavoidable if not the whole point of the matter!
    Personally the friends I still retain today in adulthood are those that I shared my childhood and schooldays with – links are forged in these years that last a lifetime I believe. I had no contact with Catholics in those early days due to various reasons (living in a loyalist housing estate being the major one with the segregration of education being a close second) In fact I was never really in mixed or Catholic company in a social environment until I left school and started college. Unsurprisingly I found that there were those amongst the “other sort” that I liked (most I suppose) and there were those I didn’t like so much, again unsurprisingly.
    I am saddened to say though that I didn’t ever form any friendships in the same vein as my older schoolfriends – today I think this is something to regret – perhaps at the time I was overguarded
    or distrustful, I cannot honestly say but I cannot help but feel that if we as children started at the same point on the board in common circumstances things may have been different for me and therefore for others too?
    I would never try to tell anyone where to educate their children, only however to fully examine the truthful reasoning behind their choices.
    I understand the ideal of every parent having the right to educate their children in their respective ethos and how a tolerent society should be accomodating enough to accept and even support this – and while retreating behind our specific identities and asking the “other sort” to respect this avenue is perfectly justifiable and respectable – is it really the right answer to help in achieving the future society in post-war NI we like to imagine.
    I know what I think.

  • Loyalist

    Because they place undue influence upon children to conform to their world-view. People should arrive at their beliefs through their own volition, not because some cleric pushes them in that direction.

  • Loyalist

    Similarly, the touchy-feely, Alliancey-type ethos of the current integrated sector makes me uneasy also. Schools should be places of learning, not centres of social engineering.

  • kensei

    “Because they place undue influence upon children to conform to their world-view. People should arrive at their beliefs through their own volition, not because some cleric pushes them in that direction.”

    Surely that’s, you know, not your decision? Surley part of being a parent is ensuring your kids conform to a certain world view.

    Though to be clear, I believe that religion should be kept out of subjects other than religion, and that it’s influence beyond that should primarly be in the ethic, ethos and atomsphere in the school. Teaching religion in science would reverse my support in the fastest time imaginable.

  • Crataegus

    Democratic

    Well put and I like you I don’t understand the reluctance to set an example.

    Ciaran

    I was trying to point out that in the scheme of things what we do and the future of any religion is probably irrelevant. I am not Unionist and nor am I Christian and don’t view any religion in the terms you describe. My attitude on the success or otherwise of any religions is what will be will be, if one ascends and another fades really doesn’t bother me. Though I must confess imagining some of our religious leaders in terms of the Borg has amusing imagery but it is also very dangerous. For first step in persecution in isolation, then ridicule, then branding, then dehumanise and then do as you want for they are less than human.

    There is also a reverse problem in that you perceive fear of the Catholic Church in others view and are not willing to take steps to allay that fear. Resolving conflict is more than just expecting others to accept what we do it is also about us addressing others fears of us.

    With respect, this is the second or third time I’ve had to pull you on this. You are continuing to peddle the line that the system I advocate will somehow lead to the near-extinction of multi-denominational or secular schools. That’s just plain wrong. Gonzo admitted earlier that the existing system in the north is actively preventing the growth of integrated or secular schools. An open system will allow them to flourish.

    If all pupils were in the same basic system all schools would be integrated. The system you advocate suits large groupings but isolates further small minorities. People like myself are of lesser standing and don’t fit in and our needs cannot be addressed because there are not enough of us in any one location and nor would I expect our specific needs to be accommodated even if we were the majority. In the context of NI segregated education ferments division and that can’t be right.

    Trust the people.

    Normally I do and often we agree, but on this we will agree to differ. But one last shot; I have travelled and lived in various places. I have seen some horrendous atrocities where religion or ethnicity has been used as an excuse for base slaughter. Surely there must be some way that we can all cooperate within a system and make it tolerant and acceptable to all. We should all throw our weight in and be seen to work together to establish a really good educational system and set an example for our children? Perhaps I am just a dreamer? I think it is really important to the peaceful future of this place and truly that is what motivates me.

    Kensei

    Agree with you about science!

    Ok. If I do that, can I have a rebate on my taxes then?

    If I send my children into an independent boarding school should I pay in full or be part paid by the state? With 90% of the pupils going on to University makes more sense than some of the issues we argue about? Equally if I choose private health care should the state pay a portion?

    I can never quite make up my on mind on these issues. However if there is a separate system there must be additional costs should that portion of the cost be born by those seeking to opt out? Do we adopt a voucher system which would suit people like myself, but would perhaps work to the disadvantage of those in most need? If we are going down the route of let the people choose well then let us do it properly but how do we then protect those in most need, the isolated or the weakest? Then there are issues relating to the greater good in a divided society!

  • Yokel

    Walsh is talking out of his arse..its all about ownership of people and his church wants to own them.

    It’s totalatarian nonsense. Nothing wrong with broad based morality based on christian principles but he’s just interested in the numbers game.

  • kensei

    “It’s totalatarian nonsense. Nothing wrong with broad based morality based on christian principles but he’s just interested in the numbers game.”

    Balls, balls and more balls. Did I mention that is complete balls? Ballsarfric.

    Walsh doesn’t give a shit about the numbers game, the Catholic Church doesn’t give a shit if this palce is a part of Ireland, England or China.

    What Walsh cares about is educating Catholics aboutt Catholicism, and producing the next generation of practicising Catholics. Whether or not you think that is a good thing is another matter, but it has nothing to do with the numbers game.

    We had a little debate a while back on Catholics not being able to understand Protestants – how their lives are structured and how their faith works etc. Is this a case of the reverse?

  • Occasional Commentator

    Catholic schools, in the South at least (my experience), do such a shoddy job of passing on the faith that Walsh hasn’t got much to lose by supporting integration. Some of the kids produced by Catholic schools are religious but most aren’t; and either way they usually don’t know the first thing about religion.

    As an agnostic, you’d think I’d be happy about this, but a further increase in ignorance about religion is not a good thing. I have found I know a damn sight more about Catholicism that even some of the most devout people I know (North and South), and I learned it on my own time recently because school didn’t teach me anything.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’ve never really understood their objections, exactly how do you teach maths, english or science with a ‘catholic ethos’? ‘

    1 billion equals the number of angels to be found on the point of a needle . Teaching evolution was only for protestants until quite recently and we all know that ye can’t read about Jimmy Joyces staunch ‘catholic ‘ ethos except through English 🙂

    Germany has the best system . Unfortunately for NI the Churches are involved in protecting their market share of young minds all the better to keep the revenue stream going for the next generation .

    The State should not subsidise religious education for any denomination .

  • George

    Crataegus,
    “If that is possible then why not have schools that accommodate all equally?”

    I don’t feel it is right for Catholics or Protestants to be denied their constitutional right to have their children educated as they see fit merely because they are the majority.
    I don’t benefit from them being the majority but it is political correctness gone mad to demand that are denied this fundamen al right. Majorities have rights too.

    “Imagine the position where two pupils one Catholic and another non want to go to the school and it is over subscribed which has priority?”
    Generally, it is children of past pupils, followed by religion but that is beside the point. They don’t have to go to a denominational school if they don’t want to. I’ve never met
    a Catholic who didn’t think it fair that a Protestant child have priority in a Protestant school.

    “Indeed how far do some pupils have to travel to school?” It depends where they are but the golden rule is that it is for the parents to decide how and where their children are educated and it is for the state to provide for this. For me, this is too fundamental a right to mess with. The elite fee-paying Protestant schools get 100% funding because they are a minority but this is a small price to pay for social and religious cohesion.

    “As the diversity of our society increases the problems multiply. The more we try to accommodate diversity the more we disadvantage others.”
    I agree we may have difficulties going into the future but it won’t be disadvantaging others it will be trying to ensure everone’s fundamental rights are met. Why the hell shouldn’t we try and deliver this rather than always going for the lowest common denominator. I love the idea of Hindu, Greek Orthodox, French, Polish, Muslim Jewish schools, each cherished equally in the Irish Republic. A big ask but we should aim high.

    “The system favours dominant religious groupings and places others at a distinct disadvantage.”

    Not true. I don’t think you get what I mean about the education rights in the Irish constitution. It is not religion that is number one, it is the parent.
    The system could gives the state a big headache as the constitution guarantees all parents the same rights. They cannot be disadvantaged as this would lead to a successful constitutional challenge.
    Legal commentators expect this to happen in the next few years and it will be interesting.

    “Imagine that the Muslin community (stress just an example) start to settle around their Mosques and schools at what stage does the Christians of that area start to feel isolated? In a NI context can you not see that this is potentially toxic.”

    No because they are moving to a school of achievement rather than being left behind in run down state schools where the white population have fled as happens in the UK.
    The muslim school is Clonskeagh I think where you would need at least a million to buy any kind of house. One of the best areas in Dublin. Any muslim wanted to move there better have a good job.

  • Fergus

    Here’s my rant on relious affiliations and state education in the UK.

    The state should be secular. Ablish the state religion in the UK (C of E). No state funds for schools with a religious affiliation. If you want your kids to go to a Protestant, Catholoc, Jewish, Muslim, whatever school, you pony up. Or send ’em to a secular state school and send ’em to Sunday School or whatever to learn their brand of superstition there.

    All education involves social engineering – of course it does. Are the kids going to learn about current scientific theories of the origin of the universe and the evolution of species? I bloody well hope so. These things have implications for religious belief – is that social engineering. I’m all for the right kind of social engineering. And of course all schools have to get kids to behave in a certain way, respect other etc. So secular state schools have to work on an ethos that just about everyone accepts, which generally they do (everyone that is). Subject to constant discussion by public and politicians of course, as it is, and should be.

    Someone asked about France. The state is resolutely secular, despite a strong (majority?) Catholic tradition. This, in my view is right, although they need to get real about the diversity of France’s population, and improve the way they deal with it.

    I come from a Catholic Irish background but was born and educated in the UK. I have been to a state C of E primary school (not much religion, and I could skip it anyway), a state Catholic primary (too much religion, priest “popping in” to interfere in lessons all the time and I couldn’t avoid it) and state non-demoninational secondary schools (fine, and I could still skip assembly, compulsory because we have a state religion in the UK and the 1944 Act, disgraceful). My brother was sent to a Christian brother school, he lasted about a month and demanded to be sent to the local secondary school (didn’t like seeing a pupil, probably with a learning disability, publicly beaten). My kids go to the local comprehensive and 6th form college, mix with kids of all types, are genuinely multi-cultural in outlook and engage in discussions on religion, politics and philosophy with gusto. This is all, surely, how it should be and is best guaranteed by universal state funded secular education.

    Blair has turned his back on Labour principles and now supports any barking mad right wing christion fundamentalist who wants state support (and most of the money comes from the state, taxpayers like me, only a small proportion from the individual or religious group) to run a school. I don’t want any religious group to have any of my tax to teach kids that baloney. Pay for it yourself!

  • Garibaldy

    Fergus,

    Am almost wholeheartedly in agreement. Except for the bit about allowing religious schools to exist. Study groups for religion organisaed by churches, yes. Schools run by religions, no.

  • Nevin

    Walsh: Catholic teachers – the lay apostolate.

    Walsh may object to the term ‘segregation’ but he and his predecessors were involved in the construction and maintenance of the ‘society within a society’ endorsed by Sean Brady; it was and is a form of self-imposed apartheid. Sadly some other clergy would like to have a CPMS …

  • Fergus

    Fergus,
    state engineering can sometimes be much worse than religious, as Nazi Germany showed, that is why I am a strong advocate of the parent being in charge of how their children are educated.

    As parents pay their taxes they are entitled to demand that the state provide for the education of their children.

    The state is there to provide for its citizens not mould them into a shape more malleable to its views. It is there to represent the people’s views not dictate them.

    Citizens support the state not the other way around as you seem to think.

  • Greenflag Germany has the best system . Unfortunately for NI the Churches are involved in protecting their market share of young minds all the better to keep the revenue stream going for the next generation
    Greenflag: you stuffed up here. Of the three richest dioceses of the Catholic Church, two are in Germany (Munich and Cologne); the other is Chicago. So much for that little theory.

    Crataegus: “Indeed, the Protestants in the south are the world’s most pampered society ever”. I thought last week it was the scroungers North of the border, what’s changed in the last week? Why are we demoted?
    Protestants in the South are pampered, most particularly in education and they firmly believe in state funded denominational education as they do so well out of it. The uneducated Protestant hordes of Ireland’s north east have been apltly described as spongers and their bonfire habits and “culture” are being discussed on another thread.

  • Crataegus

    Taigs

    For a moment I thought you were going soft.

    The uneducated Protestant hordes of Ireland’s north east

    They are mounting their horses as we speak preparing themselves for a summer of pillage, debauchery and burning.

  • Crataegus

    Just trying to stop the slant.

  • [/i]

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Can someone tell me why religion should be taught in schools or why the church should have any part at all in running schools?

  • kensei

    “Can someone tell me why religion should be taught in schools or why the church should have any part at all in running schools?”

    Because parents want it.

  • Crataegus

    Because parents want it.

    I would like pensions doubled, child support increased, and an end to speed cameras coupled with the right to drive at 60mph through towns.

    Wanting something does not necessarily either make it right or something that will happen.

    Indeed some parents don’t want it.

  • Crataegus The uneducated Protestant hordes of Ireland’s north east are mounting their horses
    I though only Faulkner could do that. Wait a minute..

  • kensei

    “Wanting something does not necessarily either make it right or something that will happen.”

    Actually, in democracy, a large number of people wanting something DOES make it happen. It’s how the system works. Choosing how your child is educated is NOT like the other things you mention, falling in the category of things that should have minimal interference from the state.

    “Indeed some parents don’t want it.”

    Sure. And they should be able to send their kids to a school with no religion. The argument here is between people arguing for mixed provision and choice and people arguing for one size ideological schooling.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Kensei

    a) Have you a link to somewhere showing that ‘parents want it’ in Northern Ireland?

    b) Most things we want we pay for. e.g. most people would like to have an education system that does not fail some of its pupils, if you want that in many places in the UK and Ireland you have to pay for it.

  • kensei

    “a) Have you a link to somewhere showing that ‘parents want it’ in Northern Ireland?”

    No, but I suggest you check the numbers in CCMS schools. If parents didn’t want it, then that number would be significantly smaller, no?

    “b) Most things we want we pay for. e.g. most people would like to have an education system that does not fail some of its pupils, if you want that in many places in the UK and Ireland you have to pay for it.”

    I believe my taxes are menat to pay for it?

    Again, this is ideologues vs choice.

  • Crataegus

    Kensei

    I was being facetious and obviously I know the arguments. They have been doing the rounds for decades.

    Surely there must be a “middle way” in this, one that sets up a system, ONE efficient, cost effective, system which has a lot of flexibility within it. One that doesn’t duplicate school provision unnecessarily! That way various churches can have a role or not depending on the wishes of the parents. Parents can have greater variety of choice and indeed the concept could be taken further and allow for different forms of teaching within the system so that Steiner schools etc could be included. If you like the state owns and maintains and sets basic standards and the parents choose the ethos and priorities within fairly wide parameters. That way education provision within demographic change can be managed more efficiently. Also if at some future date there is a united Ireland you need a system that can adopt with minimum upheaval.

    I am not as proscriptive as I sometimes appear, but being realistic what I personally would like to see is a system that allows flexibility but does not emphasise difference. I believe it is very important to the future of this place that we increase the opportunity for breaking down the divisions and enable people to take steps towards reconciliation with as few barriers as possible. The settlement patterns are going to make that difficult but every bit helps.

    Brenda on another thread mentioned the need for a serious debate on education and I am inclined to agree. Currently we have proposals for secondary education and I am not so sure that either a lot of it works or that it will necessarily deliver a better education. In many ways it may be time to take stock, draw up our wish lists and see what can be achieved rather than the futile “Oh yes you will; Oh no you won’t nonsense”.

    We don’t have to copy the English model or indeed that of the South. There has to be a sensible way forward that gives people basically what they want without antagonising. After all we all want our children to excel.

  • Depardieu

    There is a one-word answer to those who promote school integration as a panacea for Northern Ireland’s ills. That word is “BOSNIA”.

    Consider it: a country in which children of all faiths were educated together.

    a country in which intermarriage was the norm.
    a country built on a historical fault line.

    RESULT = CATASTROPHE

    Northern Ireland’s historical fault line has not gone away, you know. Until it does, enough already of the integrated education fairy dust.

  • Garibaldy

    Depardieu,

    A specious comparison I think – a whole of massive issues there, not least the collapse of socialism and interference from other countries. Integrated education is definitely not a panacea.
    But it is a good start.

  • Crataegus

    Depardieu

    And if there was segregation it would never have happened?

    Let’s see when did the problems in Bosnia start, about the time they divided the Roman Empire between East and West probably. Turks added to the complexity and let’s try to remember why the whole thing went into melt down, because the people of Bosnia decided so or because of the split up of Yugoslavia and the aspirations of neighbouring states? As I said elsewhere in situations like NI you can get a flash over of violence very readily if some faction or outside state decides to encourage it, but that does not preclude us for trying to repair the fault line.

  • Proud

    As I have stated on another topic, surely the easiest way to begin the resolution of thi sis issue is to withdraw funding for all single-religion schools, and use the revenue saved to impove the existing state system? (Once we sort out the selection mess.)

    Integrated education seems to me to be another form of headcounting, a forced way of bringing children together. Surely if parents simply chose to send their children to the local non-denominational state school then we would see a more natural form of educational integration?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Kensei

    I take it from your spurious ipso facto answer that you have no evidence then for your all encompassing statement.

    ‘Everone wants to go to the dentist since almost everyone goes to the dentist.’

  • kensei

    “I take it from your spurious ipso facto answer that you have no evidence then for your all encompassing statement.

    ‘Everone wants to go to the dentist since almost everyone goes to the dentist.’ ”

    Great point. Except…. it’s nothing like going to the dentist. Parents have the choice to send their children to a variety of schools. There is a growing number going to state or integrated schools, but the bulk go to CCMS schools.

    But, hey! if your so sure I’m wrong, show me evidence that says the majority of Catholic parents want integrated educaion.

  • Crataegus

    If parents don’t want to send their children to the state system perhaps we should ask why? There will be many reasons. We then try to address them and move on from there.