Integrated Teacher-Training College

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 14 October 2002.

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Photo of Ms Jane Morrice Ms Jane Morrice NIWC 2:30, 14 October 2002

1. asked the Minister of Education if he will make it his policy to support, and provide the lead in, the creation of an integrated teacher-training college.

(AQO 343/02)

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

The creation of an integrated teacher-training college would lie within the responsibilities of my Colleague, the Minister for Employment and Learning. I am not aware that any such proposal is being considered.

Photo of Ms Jane Morrice Ms Jane Morrice NIWC

I regret that that is the only response to my question. The Minister has called for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, page 18 of which calls for the promotion of initiatives to facilitate and encourage integrated education. My party was responsible for inserting that proposal.

Does the Minister agree that in order for integrated education to work, teachers must be trained specifically in that area? As he takes the lead in policy, will he not agree to push for an integrated teacher-training college as one of his last deeds in the Assembly? Is it not a fact that teacher training is the only segregated third-level education system, and is that not an utter disgrace?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

The Good Friday Agreement states that an essential aspect of the reconciliation process is the promotion of a culture of tolerance at every level of society, including initiatives to facilitate and encourage integrated education. Since taking up office, I have clearly demonstrated my commitment to the duty that the agreement places on my Department.

The question of teacher-training institutions can be answered only after full discussion and debate, not only with the teacher-training institutions but also with the schools and colleges that they serve. The practical implications of the Member’s question are primarily a matter for my Colleague, the Minister for Employment and Learning.