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Bairbre de Brún helps launch Europe wide E-Learning initiative in Brussels

22 June, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning helped to launch a major e-learning initiative at the European Parliament in Brussels. Ms de Brún said that such projects "can reach out to some of the most excluded sectors of society and is testament to their contribution to the local community".

The STEP initiative (Self Training and E-Learning Project) is funded under the Grundtvig II strand of the European Structural Funds Socrates Programme. The partnership was formed in October 2002. Represented at the launch where North City Training, from North Belfast. Today‚s launch also brought together people from France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"We must strive for equality of opportunity, access and provision, through the promotion of life long learning. We must facilitate learners in achieving their full potential by affording access to the levels of curriculum, institutions and type of teaching and learning best suited to them at any age and stage of their lives. We still have a culture in much of Europe which says that academic education stops after school or university. We tend to think of students as young people and much work is required if we are to change mindsets and the culture of learning.

"The development of new skills can break down many barriers and open up doors for those who, for whatever reason, have fallen out of touch with formal education. A return to education can often be a daunting occasion. Projects such as these can offer people a more relaxed avenue back into education.

"In particular, the emphasis upon the long term unemployed, ex-prisoners, those with essential skill needs, women returnees, lone parents and immigrants is important. That these projects can reach out to some of the most excluded sectors of society is testament to their contribution to the local community.

"I want to pay tribute to organizations such as North City Training from North Belfast who where represented at today‚s launch. In an area with high levels of social need and community division, projects such as these are crucially important in bridging divides and promoting reconciliation and learning." ENDS

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