Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson has called on schools in Northern Ireland to ensure that children of all backgrounds are educated together.
The Taken hardman – from Co Antrim – released a video which sees him throw his support behind the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).
The IEF aim is for integrated education to be available to children in almost every school across the region.
Their campaign is called ‘Integrate My School – I’m In’. If successful it will give parents the power to influence schools to transform to integrated status.
Neeson said: “We look to our children for the future, so why do we continue to educate them apart: different religions, different backgrounds, different schools?
“There is another way. Most people agree that educating children together is a better way forward for our society.
“It’s time to turn our aspiration into reality, to believe in your children and believe in their future.”
Figures suggest that the majority of parents would want to send their children to integrated schools. Integrated schools are also supported by the Department for Education.
If a minimum of 20% of parents at a school express an interest in integration, the board of governors must put the matter to the whole school for consultation.
Parents can register their interest via the IEF website.
IEF chief executive Tina Merron said: “By logging on and registering their interest confidentially on the IntegrateMySchool website, parents could take almost any school in Northern Ireland on the first steps towards integration.
“This is not an overnight process and schools can only transform to integrated status with parental approval and parental involvement, but this online registration is a very important first step in showing the interest of the school community, in complete confidentiality and without prejudice.
“A strong expression of interest from enough parents at a school means there is the momentum to drive the school to the next stage.”
IEF campaign chairwoman Baroness May Blood reiterates that the power to bring change is already in the hands of the parents, rather than politicians.
She said: “The regulations are already in place, so it only takes parents to show their interest and the wheels of change can begin to turn.
“This campaign marks the start of a very interesting and exciting period of change in education in Northern Ireland – and in our society as a whole.”
In Neeson’s video he lays out his vision: “Protestants and Catholics, other beliefs and none learning and working together everyday.
“Most people agree that educating children together is a better way forward for our society.”
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