As General Election 2016 campaign comes to an end, now is a good time to reflect on what Ireland needs to attain real equality in education.
We have been through the party manifestos. Some have offered concrete plans, promising numbers of schools that offer choice and proposing budgets to provide education equality. Many support the idea of education equality, acknowledging the concern of parents who only ask that their children have access to a school that promotes rather than tolerates difference and guarantees respect to each individual child in the classroom. We've been engaging with Educate Together supporters - thousands of them - and this is what they want. This is not too much to expect in a modern democracy.
So, while promises and proposals are encouraging, we need the next Government to act on them. We need to see political will backed up by demonstrable commitment to equality in education through a fully costed line in the Programme for Government.
There are now 77 Educate Together primary and four second-level schools in Ireland. In total, these 81 schools provide education for over 21,000 pupils. Thousands of children are learning in Educate Together schools and thousands more are waiting for Educate Together schools. They can wait no longer. We have provided a practical, achievable plan to embed equality in the education system: the establishment of a national network of Educate Together primary and secondary schools. We are waiting to work with the next Government on implementing it.
With the election tomorrow, it’s still not too late to contact your candidates. See if they’ve already signed up to our 4 Essentials for Equality in Education here or email them directly here.