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Sharing in Education Project launched in Post Primary Schools

Published on:  05 Dec 2011
Monday 5th December: A major cross-community project partnering schools from Nationalist and Unionist traditions in the North Eastern Education and Library Board area, was launched today by Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland.

The Partnership, Inclusion, Reconciliation, Citizenship and History Project (PIRCH), to which the Fund has provided financial assistance of up to £1,153,000 through its Sharing in Education Programme, aims to develop collaborative working partnerships within schools and improve community relations.

The three-year project, which will be implemented across 12 schools in the NEELB area, will provide support to teachers and young people to promote community relations in six pairs of neighbouring post primary schools in Nationalist and Unionist areas. The Project will encourage them to share all aspects of school life and to work together to shape a better and shared future for them all.

Dr Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: "The PIRCH Project is the latest programme to be launched as part of our Sharing in Education Programme.

"The Project will support teachers to educate pupils together in community relations, citizenship and history and to encourage them to share their beliefs, values and cultures through all aspects of school life. It will provide teachers with accredited training to be able to address issues in their own classrooms and will promote greater understanding between our two main traditions in Northern Ireland."

"The Project will enhance the educational experiences and life chances for the young people and that in turn they will become more open to sharing their cultures and beliefs and building lasting friendships with students from neighbouring schools.

"Over its lifetime, the Project will be delivered to approximately 7000 students. As well as bringing about educational changes, we hope it will go some way to build trust and break down barriers in communities, objectives that are integral to the International Fund for Ireland's strategy and our Sharing in Education Programme."

As the project develops, pupils and teachers also have the opportunity to benefit from access to resources and facilities available at partner schools, joint staff development and training opportunities. A teaching salary will also be made available for an Inclusion teacher, in each of the 12 schools to work with small groups of young people who are experiencing challenges in their school lives.

Lorna Gardner, Assistant Senior Education Officer, NEELB said:  "The NEELB's Curriculum Advisory and Support Service welcome the opportunity to lead the development of this 'sharing education' project with the identified group of PIRCH partner schools through the provision of International Fund for Ireland funds. We trust that the support to the schools involved will contribute to the achievement of positive outcomes for all pupils involved and also benefit not only the schools, but also the local communities and wider society."

The Project is being funded through the International Fund for Ireland's Sharing in Education Programme which aims to break down barriers from Northern Ireland's historic conflict by providing a range of opportunities for young people to learn and work together. Our intervention has been more successful that we have anticipated and there are now 295 schools working together in 82 separate partnerships involving 43,900 pupils.

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