Delegates attending the 2017 Educate Together AGM at Hansfield Educate Together National School in Dublin today heard of significant ongoing progress for Ireland's equality-based school movement. The AGM, attended by representatives of Educate Together’s primary and second-level schools, was marked by lively engagement, decision-making and debate.
Professor Kathleen Lynch, Professor of Equality Studies at UCD, was the keynote speaker at the event and spoke to delegates on the issues of class conflict at school and the need to address the contradictions in our education system.
The term of Diarmaid MacAonghusa, Chairperson of the Educate Together Board of Directors, came to the end at today’s AGM. The members thanked Diarmaid for his trojan work in advancing the cause of equality-based education since 2009. In his final address, Diarmaid acknowledged the contributions made by the network’s principals, teachers, boards of management, start-up groups, parents and, of course, students:
"Like any voluntary organisation, Educate Together would not survive without the willingness of you, our members, to put in all of the work you do both in our schools and at national level. I would like to pay tribute to the quality of teaching, the model of education and the atmosphere of inclusion and equality that Educate Together teachers, and all those who have gone before you, provide in your schools.”
Diarmaid spoke about, in today’s turbulent world, the increasing need to stress the message of equality at school:
“Children are copying what they are hearing at home, at school and what they see on the internet. Bullying based on race, gender and sexuality is a very real issue and as parents and teachers we have a responsibility to fight it. We have a responsibility to get the message of equality, dignity and respect for every citizen and visitor to our country across to children from a very young age. I believe that Educate Together’s equality-based ethos is the perfect tool to address this and I encourage you all to keep up the good fight.”
Addressing the AGM, Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe called for the Government to provide increased resources for school planning:
“The Government needs to provide, as an absolute strategic priority, a systematic, organised programme of capital building to bring the equality-based school network up to the capacity needed. On behalf of all patrons providing new schools, Educate Together is making this plea to Government for the reform of planning processes.
The AGM heard that Educate Together has recently made major progress on a number of fronts. Five brand new second-level schools and four new national schools all opened successfully last September – the second highest number of equality-based schools to open in one year in Ireland’s history. This reflects the growing desire and determination of families in these communities to establish schools where all children are equally respected regardless of social, religious or cultural background.