East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed a survey that shows the majority of East Antrim residents support Integrated Education and would like more integrated schools in the constituency.
The survey, conducted by Lucid Talk in March 2018, demonstrated a majority of respondents in East Antrim supported an increase in integrated education provision.
Lucid Talk found that only 18% of parents in East Antrim said a school which reflects a particular single faith or cultural background, was important or very important in choosing a school for their child/children. This compared sharply to 78% of parents, who said that it was important, or very important, that their child or children attend schools which are openly welcoming to all sections of the community, and to all faiths.
In their survey, Lucid Talk found that 68% of respondents in East Antrim supported their child/children’s, or local school, becoming integrated. Integrating education was included in the Good Friday Agreement and the ‘Fresh Start Agreement’, however only 8% of pupils in Northern Ireland go to integrated schools. Respondents were asked what they thought was holding up the growth of Integrated Education, with 62% blaming Northern Ireland political parties and Northern Ireland politicians, and 58% saying the influence of churches was responsible for the lack of progress.
Mr Dickson said: “The other main parties pay lip-service to Integrated Education, but ultimately prefer the status quo of segregated education. The Alliance Party however, has consistently and boldly backed integration, and the survey shows that the East Antrim public support this position.
“There are currently more than 50,000 empty school desks in Northern Ireland. Given this, Lucid Talk found that 77% of respondents in East Antrim supported cross-community mergers of schools to rationalise the education system, and to save money in Northern Ireland. Additionally, 81% of respondents in East Antrim believe there should be an independent, full review of education in Northern Ireland, to improve efficiency and to ensure the best outcomes for all children.
Mr Dickson concluded: “The results of this survey are clear. The people of Northern Ireland, including my constituents, overwhelmingly back Integrated Education for their children, and indeed want more integrated school places. Politicians are elected to represent the views of their constituents, and it is time we delivered.”
The full poll report can be found here.