Education Unions unite to tackle educational disadvantage in Northern Ireland

In a landmark move towards fostering unity and progress, education unions from both sides of the Irish border have embarked on an INTO-inspired initiative to deepen connections between the island’s education systems. The gathering, attended by Presidents and General Secretaries/Regional Secretaries of nine education unions, marked a significant step towards collaborative efforts to enhance education standards across Ireland.

Coinciding with this key meeting was the North South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral meeting, where Minister Norma Foley T.D. and Minister Hildegarde Naughton T.D. engaged in discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive’s Minister for Education Paul Givan MLA and Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald MLA, highlighting the shared commitment to cross-border collaboration in education.

The culmination of these efforts has led to the official announcement of the pilot cooperation program, the RAISE Programme, aimed at addressing educational underachievement in Northern Ireland. Supported by the Shared Island Fund, this strategic initiative adopts a holistic approach, emphasising collaboration and community engagement to tackle educational disadvantage in specific localities across Northern Ireland.

These localities are within:

  • Antrim
  • Ards Peninsula
  • Ballymena
  • Belfast
  • Carrick
  • Coleraine
  • Derry
  • Dungannon
  • Enniskillen
  • Limavady
  • Lisburn
  • Lurgan and Craigavon
  • Newry
  • Newtownabbey
  • Portadown

INTO, the only education union operating on both sides of the border, welcomes this significant investment by the Irish government, recognising its potential to uplift vulnerable children and foster closer ties between communities. INTO General Secretary John Boyle has today commended the collaborative spirit of both education departments, emphasising the importance of investing in the education of future generations, regardless of political affiliations.

The INTO further calls for the extension and amplification of such programmes, urging continued engagement with key stakeholders to ensure sustained progress and inclusivity. With commitments to expand cooperation into new domains such as Digital and Artificial Intelligence and Early Years Education there is much work to be done.

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