Census Figures Show Necessity for Structural Change in Irish Education

The figures form the 2002 census provide powerful evidence of the irreversible trend towards ethical and social diversity in Ireland. The figures provide more detail of religious and ethical diversity than ever before measured and show dramatic increases in all headings of minority opinion.

These figures emphasise in official statistics, the long stated opinion of Educate Together that we as a society must respond to this increasing diversity and introduce structural change in our education system. Stark figures show that 99% of all primary schools in Ireland are denominational schools. In a situation in which society is rapidly diversifying, the State cannot continue to re-inforce an environment in which the vast majority of families have no choice. This is opening up a significant legal and human rights liability to the state in which the constitutional rights of minority families are being violated.

Educate Together actively call on the Minister and all other education providers to work with us to create a national network of schools that are legally bound to respect and cherish the identity of all citizens irrespective of their religious, cultural or social backgrounds. This must be seen as a strategic necessity and funding allocations adjusted to reflect this priority. We urge that this should be planned, developed with agreement and consent for the benefit of the whole system and integrated with the National Development Plan.