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Learning and Educating Together (LET) Programme

on .

LET-ProgrammeFor some young people, Fund supported programmes like LET provide the first opportunity to mix with peers from other traditions and backgrounds.
Launched in 2003, LET targets schoolchildren in the 12-13 age group from maintained and controlled schools in Northern Ireland and schools in the southern border counties. Approximately 6,000 pupils have participated in the programme.

Around 600 pupils take part in three residentials each academic year. These help the young people develop friendships – sometimes for the very first time – with peers from different cultural and religious backgrounds. They are drawn from some of the most marginalised communities in the target areas. The programme is delivered jointly on behalf of the Fund by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and Junior Achievement Ireland. Andrea Doran, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland Project Manager, says economic tools are used at the residential to help young people gain a better understanding of how real life works. “We start by teaching them personal development skills, tell them how a business works and why it is important in any community in order to develop wealth and infrastructure. They also learn personal budgeting skills, how to avoid getting into debt and the advantages and disadvantages of various types of lenders, from those who go door-to-door to credit unions and banks.

“In their final residential they develop a prototype product which could be used to address some social need in their community. Then, in a Dragons’ Den type scenario they have to sell their business idea to a group of business people who volunteer to help us and who judge each entry.

“The pupils also take part in outdoor activities which help to build up their team working and communication skills.”

Andrea says that when the residentials send there are many tears shed as the pupils leave. Many of them keep in touch through social networking, texting and telephoning and also keep in touch with the staff who deliver the courses.

“We feel that our approach to peace building and mutual understanding, using economic tools, gives the pupils a greater realisation of what life after school will really be like. They know they will have to work with people of different personal and religious beliefs when they leave school, but they will have the confidence and skills to do so. They also realise that they can make a positive contribution to the communities where they live and can be part of a diverse and vibrant society.”

The LET Programme finishes in May 2013 and Andrea and her colleagues are currently undertaking detailed research to show how those who took part have gained valuable experiences compared to those in a control group who did not take part on the programme.