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O’Dowd meets southern counterpart

3 June, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister John O’Dowd has held his first meeting with Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills in the south of Ireland.

The meeting in Dublin provided an opportunity for the Ministers to discuss issues of mutual interest including the joint work being carried out to improve literacy and numeracy standards, as well as looking ahead to possible further areas of collaboration.

Speaking following the meeting, Mr O’Dowd said: "Today provided me with a useful early opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest with Minister Quinn.

"Much work has been carried out in recent years on an all-Ireland basis in the education sector and we took the opportunity to discuss some of the constructive work that has already begun. The need to raise literacy and numeracy standards, for example, is a challenge we face across the island. Both departments have engaged constructively on this issue – joint events have been held to share best practice and the two Inspectorates published a joint report last year to highlight and promote successful approaches to dealing with this challenge.

"Raising literacy and numeracy levels is a key priority for North-South co-operation and Minister Quinn and I will continue to focus on work to improve educational outcomes, particularly where there is persistent underachievement within the system, and help young people develop the skills we need for our economy."

As part of the commitment to working on areas of mutual benefit, both departments had already agreed to a comprehensive study on North South co-operation in the education sector. The aim of the study is to appraise the key patterns of historical co-operation in the education sector and to consider areas of future collaboration between both departments, within the current economic climate.

Mr O’Dowd continued: "Both departments have received a draft copy of Part 1 of the report which describes the excellent work that has been done by education bodies, schools and youth organisations north and south. We need to build on that, for the benefit of all our children and young people and for our economies.

"Minister Quinn and I discussed the scope for Part 2 of the study, which will be a joint action plan and agreed that our respective departments will work closely to identify areas with the potential for future practical co-operation."

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