The new Institute reflects something of how the future of education in Ireland is progressing and how people wish it to progress. We live in a pluralist society and our education must prepare people to live in and flourish within a pluralist society.
Ireland has to strive to offer the best educational system to its children. Ireland has to strive to offer its teachers and future teachers the best in training and formation. I am delighted to see the new range of opportunities for teacher training and on-going formation that the new Institute will open out at all levels.
The Institute reflects a modern understanding of pluralism. Pluralism should not produce negative rivalry or antagonism or give rise to elitism or social division, or a culture which seeks to maintain positions based on narrow ideologies. We need to build up positive relationships within the entire educational community in such a way that our children learn to respect each other and to understand what it means to live one’s values with conviction within a respectful pluralist framework, in a modernity of mutual and respectful understanding.
Catholic education HAS a vital place in today’s Irish educational system, as something which brings a unique value system, a value system which is recognized also by families of a variety of religious traditions who opt to send their children to a Catholic school.
Catholic education will continue to play that role in the future, working however alongside other schools which embrace a different ethos and contribute, in their way, to the rightful pluralism of educational provision in today’s Ireland.
If religious education is one of the fundamental pillars of the Irish education system, then there is a public interest in seeing that those involved in religious education and in denominational education in public schools are adequately trained for their task. The new Institute will offer great opportunities to ensure that training for those working in denominational education takes place within an atmosphere of excellence and that those involved in religious education will in their own way be able to enrich that excellence.
The response to the challenge of pluralism will have to be measured, however, not just in terms of pluralism in patronage, but in an outcome in which every school, independent of its patronage, becomes a place of welcome for the deprived, the marginalized and those with educational challenges.
Further Information: Annette O Donnell 087 8143462