View from the Chair; Overcoming Lack of Educational Attainment

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 12, 2006 | Go to article overview

View from the Chair; Overcoming Lack of Educational Attainment


Byline: Dr Mark Sweeney

AFTER the exam results, it's back to school week; and then the colleges and universities reopen. Sometimes, it can seem as if our society revolves around education; and why not, when we consider how the prospects for prosperity and growth, both nationally and personally, depend upon a successful education system.

There are great successes, year on year, in education in Northern Ireland, but there are also worrying gaps. Too many young people leave education each year without the skills needed to find a place in the modern workplace and, as a result, without the prospect of a challenging and rewarding working life which is so essential, for each one personally and for our society.

Low levels of educational attainment can be caused by and lead on to social and economic disadvantage in particular areas and communities. If people are living under that kind of disadvantage then the effects of inequality, on grounds of disability, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, for example, are greatly exacerbated. Breaking these cycles of disadvantage is essential if we are to create a society with genuine opportunity for all.

Lack of educational attainment is a disadvantage - even a major disadvantage - but it need not be a life sentence. It can be a barrier to entry to the workforce and to advancement within it. …

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