School selected to lead immigration project

Minister for Education John O'Dowd with pupils, staff and invited guests. INPT06-020
Minister for Education John O'Dowd with pupils, staff and invited guests. INPT06-020

St Catherine’s College, Armagh is one of just two schools in Northern Ireland selected to lead a major project on immigration within Europe.

The school is taking part in the assignment to investigate the impact of immigration on Sacred Heart schools and has teamed up with colleges in Dublin, France and Spain.

The project is being undertaken through Erasmus Plus, an initiative of The European Commission designed to encourage collaboration and exchanges among European Schools.

And last week, Minister for Education John O’Dowd visited St Catherine’s for the launch of the Erasmus Plus Programme for schools in the north of Ireland.

There was a lively debate on the topic of immigration within Europe, and Minister O’Dowd was joined on the panel by Bernadette McAliskey, co-ordinator of South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP), Dungannon, and via Skype by Florence de la Villéon, a sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart who is currently working with immigrants in Sicily.

During their initial meeting in Armagh in November, pupils began contributing to a blog highlighting the impact that immigration has had on their own communities.

They were also trained in film-making skills and will create short films on the subject of immigration which will be screened at a film festival in Armagh in May 2017.

Speaking after the launch, Minister O’Dowd said, “It was a pleasure to be part of the panel today at the launch of the Erasmus Plus programme for schools here. Your project is to promote tolerance, respect, diversity, perception and inclusion.

“Making links with Mount Anville College, Dublin, Sacré-Cour La Perverie in France and Collegio Santa Magdalena in Spain will be vitally important in helping you meet those objectives.”

He added, “Through those links and new collaborations you will see the issues which are affecting countries throughout Europe, involving thousands if not millions of people.

“Those issues also touch on us here in the north of Ireland. I wish you well on your journey of discovery.”

Students from St Patrick’s Grammar School and The Royal School, Armagh, also took part in the event.