A new pluralist education system built on trust
THE move to a more pluralist education system in Ireland has been slow, but a huge stride was taken yesterday.
The coming together of St Pat's Drumcondra, which since 1875 has been preparing teachers for Catholic classrooms, and the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE), will not mean an end to denominational education or denominational preparation for teachers in church-linked schools.
What it does is display a level of trust and an openness and a willingness to work collaboratively in a way that can only benefit the Irish education system.
In the words of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the new institute "reflects a modern understanding of pluralism". One, he said, that "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".
The denominational dimension is particularly interesting because CICE opted for a longstanding relationship with its more natural partner Trinity College to become part of the DCU-led Institute of Education. But the institute is about more than that, and is set to become the largest critical mass of education expertise in Ireland. It is part of long-overdue reform of training and professional development of teachers and educators which has seen the Froebel college become part of NUI Maynooth.
Other developments are awaited, including a collaboration involving Trinity, University College Dublin and the primary teacher college, Colaiste Mhuire Marino, but the new institute has made the running.