18/01/2006

Study reveals that integrated schools are less sectarian

A report released by Queens University today, has revealed that people who attend integrated schools in Northern Ireland could create a new "political common ground."

The article entitled 'In search of the middle ground: Integrated education and Northern Ireland politics,' is the result of six-years of research into the political attitudes and identities of the younger generation.

The study found that people attending integrated schools are more likely to reject traditional identities and allegiances.

Professor Bernadette Hayes, Professor Ian McAllister and Lizanne Dowds conducted a number of various surveys to study the attitudes of students attending both integrated and segregated schools.

Professor Hayes said: "These results, tentative as they are, add weight to the studies which have shown that integrated schools can and do have an impact on the outlooks of the pupils who attend them.

"Moreover, our study - based on a large sample of the adult population - suggests that the positive effects of integrated schooling extend into later life.

"As the numbers experiencing integrated schooling grows, these individuals have the potential to create a new common ground in Northern Ireland politics."

The report suggested that Protestants who attended an integrated school were less likely to say that they were British or unionist; however, they were not willing to adopt an Irish or nationalist identity.

Catholics who attended an integrated school were less likely to endorse an Irish identity, but were more likely to say they were neither unionist nor nationalist.

The study found that 80% of Protestants who attended a fairly mixed or segregated school favoured the union with Britain, compared to 65% of those who went to an integrated school. Just over 50% of Catholics who attended a segregated school supported Irish re-unification, copared to 35% of those who had experienced integrated education.

Integrated education has been promoted as a way to break down Northern Ireland's sectarian divisions.

(EF/SP)

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