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The education gap can be closed to ensure a bright future - Ruane

17 September, 2008

The underachievement of children from socially deprived areas in Derry is being tackled by a programme launched by the Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane today.

The 'Achieving Derry - Bright Futures' programme has been developed in collaboration with a number of external partners to support schools in areas of high social disadvantage and raise their educational standards.

Speaking at the launch, the Education Minister said:

"It is simply not acceptable that after 12 years of compulsory education, children should leave school with poor literacy and numeracy skills. We need to radically reform our current education system to remove the inequalities that exist and open up a world of possibilities to our young people.

"This programme will go towards addressing the educational imbalance that the young people of Derry have lived with for years. For too long, many young people from areas of social deprivation such as the Fountain estate and the Bogside have left school without good qualifications - this cannot be allowed to continue. We need to have the courage and vision to develop programmes that break the mould and offer creative solutions to the key issues in education.

"We also need to do this work in consultation and in partnership with those communities that have been affected most by social disadvantage and educational underachievement. The efforts of the WELB and its statutory partners must be matched with genuine engagement with the Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships and others who represent the most disadvantaged communities in Derry.

"I welcome the board's commitment to doing this and I will be measuring the effectiveness by looking at how those efforts have helped to close the gap in underachievement and from local community representatives on how they have been directly engaged in that work."

The minister concluded:

"Working together, our goal must be to ensure that our schools are second to none and that all pupils, irrespective of their geographical location, social background, gender, disability or race, are given the opportunity to achieve their full potential and develop the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed." ENDS

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