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Brookeborough and Tempo schools recently welcomed a delegation of teachers, practitioners, NGOs, policy makers and academics from the Balkans. The group were in Northern Ireland to see Shared Education in action and share expertise and ideas.
International visitors with pupils, principals and governors from Brookeborough PS and St Mary’s PS, Brookeborough
The project led by Dr Joanne Hughes and Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s University, supported by the Fermanagh Trust involves the development of a strategic network of academics, practitioners, NGOs, and policymakers across Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and N. Ireland. Participants in the network will contribute to a series of knowledge exchange seminars in 2017 and 2018 aimed at building relationships and sharing expertise, with the hope of establishing similar projects in their own divided education systems.
The group, visited a number of schools throughout Northern Ireland. In Fermanagh, facilitated by the Rural Centre for Shared Education the group met with Shared Education partnerships in Brookeborough and Tempo.
Within their post conflict societies, separate education systems are the norm meaning that opportunities for contact amongst children and young people are minimal. In Northern Ireland Shared Education has been established and supported by the government to facilitate engagement between schools. Programmes involve schools forming collaborative partnerships where pupils engage in shared, sustained learning experiences together. Schools in County Fermanagh in particular have been very much the pathfinder of this development.
The primary school partnerships in Brookeborough and Tempo and numerous others throughout the county have been working together since 2008 under the Fermanagh Trust’s Shared Education Programme. Since then linkages have been developed between schools from different sectors, building bridges between our two main communities. Schools have been delivering part of the curriculum jointly on a cross-community basis, contributing to the development of more cohesive and sustainable communities in Fermanagh.
International visitors with principals from Tempo PS and St Mary’s PS, Tempo
Aneta Lalic from the Department for Culture at the Serbian National Council said “I really enjoyed the visit and in particular it was so great to see the relationship between the school partnerships. The collaboration and deep level of cooperation is clear to see. Certainly some of this model could work in our countries as I can see some similarities to Northern Ireland. There is potential, but there needs to be the will and it’s something I’d like to see happening back home.”
Sabina Cudic, a politician from Bosnia and Herzegovina added “This was an incredibly useful visit for us in terms of understanding the challenges and opportunities of Shared Education as a means of breaking down barriers. Meeting the principals, pupils and governors was very helpful to understand what a pivotal role the community play. Coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina we can certainly draw parallels and it was very encouraging to see the visionary thinking of the schools here.”