THE Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good, told the General Synod last Saturday that a crisis in the education system in Northern Ireland was failing young people because of the absence of political leadership.
“We have frequently heard the word ‘crisis’ used to describe the state of education here. I fear, though, it’s gone way beyond crisis,” he said. “The needle on the dial has shifted into the red zone. The alarm bells are ringing. The klaxons are sounding. But little is happening to prevent the fabric of our education system from unravelling.”
Bishop Good, who retires at the end of May, said that urgent intervention was needed from those with power in society. Courageous leadership from the Stormont parties, which the main churches had called for only days before the Synod, was required for normal political life to resume.
“I echo that call,” he said. “We are in danger of failing this generation of young people. We will be failing future generations. When it comes to something as important as our education system, failure is not an option.”
He pointed to deficits of vision, finance, and morale. There was, he said, an ambitious agenda for transformation of the education sector.
“But the reality is that, without a minister with responsibility for education in place to take decisions and to implement them, without an education committee to oversee and scrutinise and advocate, and without a real budget to make it all happen, this agenda is running into the sand because of a lack of courageous and strategically implemented vision.”