NI curriculum now includes lessons from ex-terrorists…

THE Education Minister snuck this press release out in the news graveyard of a Friday afternoon, but I think it’s worth highlighting, as it will probably provoke strong reactions one way or the other. A new resource for local schools entitled, ‘From Prison to Peace: Building on Experience’, has been launched. The resource, “which has been developed by a partnership of community and former prisoner groups from all sides of the community, provides a range of interesting, challenging and informative learning materials for pupils at Key Stage 4”.

According to the Minister’s blurb:

As we move forward into a more progressive and equal society, it is important that we do not forget the lessons of the past. The re-integration of politically motivated ex-prisoners into society provides an opportunity for them to contribute positively to this progress and help ensure that history does not repeat itself.

This innovative learning resource seeks to build on the strong relationships that have been established between a range of diverse groups. The materials have a strong emphasis on anti-sectarianism and anti-racism, which aligns well with the focus on Citizenship in the Revised Curriculum.

So it’s either a Daily Mail reader’s worst nightmare (‘Terrorists to teach our schoolkids’, perhaps?), or a Guardian luvvie’s wet dream (‘Kids learn how to avoid hatred of past’, or something.)

It’s not entirely clear from the statement what exactly our kids could learn from former paramilitaries, ex-combatants, politically motivated ex-prisoners or just plain old terrorists, but most things Caitriona does gets unionists’ goats up, so this could be another humdinger.

Unlike some of the contributors to the new educational resource, I’m holding fire until I see what it’s actually about. What exactly are the lessons of the past in this package, and how are they presented?

It might well be challenging and positive, but some will feel uneasy about such materials in the classroom. The Education Minister probably needs to do some educating if she is to convince parents of the worth of this new resource.