Belfast Telegraph

Integrated schools 'key to improved relations'

By Kathryn Torney
20 October 2004

Community relations in Northern Ireland could be improved if there were more integrated schools, it was claimed today.

That was the main finding of a report on young people's views of sectarianism launched today.

The Voices Behind the Statistics report, co-authored by Shirley Ewart from the University of Ulster and Dirk Schubotz from Queen's University, questioned young people from different religious backgrounds across Northern Ireland.

The report is the result of a joint project undertaken by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) and ARK (The Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive).

During the scheme sixth-form students from 11 schools across Northern Ireland were consulted on their experiences of sectarianism and their ideas about how community relations could be improved.

Dirk Schubotz said: "The project with NCB created an ideal platform to get in touch and consult with young people in schools.

"The results of Voices Behind the Statistics gave important impulses for the 2004 Young Life and Times survey, which we have just concluded."

Many of the young people felt the need to compromise and integrate more in order for community relations in the province to improve.

One young person said: "I would like to hope that there will be a lot more cross-community projects available within schools and that there will be more integrated schools opened to give young people a chance to mix."

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