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O’Dowd comments on Educational Underachievement Report

21 March, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education John O’Dowd MLA, commenting on today’s report into Educational Underachievement, with particular emphasis on the underachievement of Protestant boys from socially deprived, working class areas.

Mr O’Dowd who attended the launch at the Stormont Hotel later this afternoon said;

“While the findings of this report are deeply concerning in reality they will come as no surprise to those working within the Education and Training sector.

For some years now Sinn Féin has been highlighting the fact that working class protestant boys are the demographic most failed by the educational arrangements which Unionist representatives have fought vehemently to retain.

Sinn Féin is about bringing real change to our education system, about cherishing all of our children equally. That is why under the leadership of Martin McGuinness and Caitríona Ruane we put an end to the discriminatory 11+ exam and are driving the agenda of ‘every school a good school’.

This report highlights the very broad factors that impact directly upon the educational and vocational development of our young people, it recognises that our education system alone cannot solve all of these problems. Sinn Féin has also acknowledged this fact and have been actively developing cross-departmental approaches to the social, psychological and economic well being of our young people.

These figures are a wake up call for those politicians who continue to, for narrow political ends, bury their heads in the sand, when it comes to the realities faced by our communities. The old regime has failed the overwhelming majority of children and young people. For example, the DUP brought Academic selection to the talks table at St Andrews in 2007, and refused to share power with their nationalist and republican neighbours unless the British Government capitulated to the DUP demand that Selection be retained on the statute books.

To date the DUP have not publicly acknowledged on whose behalf such a demand was made, the evidence shows it certainly was not on behalf of the thousand of working class protestant children turned away from grammar schools every year and who are failing to enter university education.” CRÍOCH

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