Sir, – Margaret Marshall (Letters, November 7th) points out that poll after poll shows that a majority of parents in Northern Ireland would like their children’s schools to transform to integrated status, yet the majority of children attend schools that are segregated.
Although I am fully supportive of educational pluralism, I also support parental choice. I do not subscribe to the view that the mandatory integration of schools will somehow make sectarianism history.
It could be construed from Margaret Marshall’s letter that those parents who choose denominational education for their children are in some way not genuinely committed to a shared society.
It could also be construed that Ms Marshall favours a compulsory integrated school system for all children against the wishes of some parents. Does Ms Marshall suggest the forced integrated education, not just of Catholic and Protestant, but also Jews, Hindus and Muslims?
Since the foundation of the Northern state a policy of segregation of communities was rigorously enforced.
Indeed, a recent survey found that in excess of 90 per cent of the population in the North lives in denominationally segregated housing.
Therefore, the successful integration of students in education can only come about if there is the same appetite to pursue a similar policy of integrated housing.
This policy of integrated education which Ms Marshall proposes must be consensus-based, where difference is not just tolerated but respected, where all creeds, colours and systems are celebrated and where the existence of schools with a differing ethos is both welcomed and defended. – Yours, etc,