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Ruane shares education vision at Cyprus seminar


Irish News

Education minister Caitriona Ruane has again been sharing her vision of a system free from academic selection – this time on the divided island of Cyprus.

During a five-day trip, Ms Ruane told a seminar in the island’s capital Nicosia about diversity and equality in education.

She was invited by the Council for Reconstruction and Resettlement which is tasked with finding solutions to problems after Cyprus is reunified.

Last year Greek Cypriots demolished a key section of the ‘green line’ ceasefire line dividing Nicosia.

The green line has separated mainly Greek Cypriot areas from Turkish Cypriot areas since 1974, when troops from Turkey occupied the north.

The Department of Education said Ms Ruane was attending at the invitation of the Council for Reconstruction and Resettlement which paid all costs except flights, which were paid by the department.

One department official accompanied the minister.

A spokesman said this was Ms Ruane’s first overseas engagement in her two years in the job.

Ms Ruane said the seminar had been looking at the role of education in building peace in a community in conflict.

She said that through education young people could understand their shared history and learn to respect diversity.

The minister said the education system could help develop an understanding of the importance of human rights and equality and foster a sense of social justice.

Ms Ruane said she “took the opportunity” to explain to delegates the reforms she was progressing to bring the north’s education system up to date, including her policy proposals for Transfer 2010.

Having scrapped the 11-plus, she has asked all secondary schools to operate non-academic entrance criteria only but almost every grammar looks set to defy her and retain entrance tests.

In Cyprus, children move from public primary schools to secondary schools without any written examination.

After three years of general education at secondary school, students elect an educational route to suit their needs and abilities.

“These arrangements are similar to my proposals for our system in which every child should have access to the education to which they are entitled,” Ms Ruane said.

She also met minister of education and culture Andreas Demetriou and visited a school in Nicosia that caters for children from Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and other communities.

Assembly education committee deputy chairman Dominic Bradley last night criticised the trip.

“At a time when the education system here is in chaos it is unbelievable that the minister has chosen to absent herself from the assembly to explain Transfer 2010 to people in Cyprus,” he said.

“There are many people here in the north who feel that the minister’s time would be better spent sorting out the nightmare which parents will face in education here over the coming months.”


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