Learning to stay apart

I don’t always agree with Fionola Meredith but she has a worthwhile article in today’s Irish Times.  Her son has just started his studies at Trinity College and she notes that the number of students from the north going south to study and vice versa is shrinking. 
It’s an issue that hasn’t been addressed and should be. The Scottish government with one stroke of the pen did what seemed impossible: it had sixth-formers at Protestant schools here (and please don’t start telling me they’re not Protestant schools – if they’re largely attended by Protestants they’re Protestant schools) lining up to get an Irish passport. For why? Because as EU passport holders they were entitled to skip paying fees but as as British passport holders they were not. Simples. 
But it goes beyond getting a cheaper deal. Before the flag thugs ruined everything, we used to do a house-swap with families from different countries. Living embedded in a district in San Francisco or Toulouse or southern Italy, you got a sense of people and their lives that was impossible as a normal tourist to those countries. And having both taught and studied in the south, I know how valuable the experience can be in understanding my country south of the border. 
And yes, Virginia, there is a need for it. Ignore if you can the increasingly-partitionist tone of the southern media. Instead do the math(s).  As Meredith notes,  southern students constitute just 4% of students in higher education in the north; northern students make up 2% of those in the south. If you’re someone who regards the south as a foreign country you should still be appalled by these figures: they do little towards fostering good neighbourly relations. If you believe that south of the border is part of your country, you should be leppin’ mad – not just at the pathetically small figures of transfer but at the need for two separate education systems at any level. 

John O’Dowd: please note. 

9 Responses to Learning to stay apart

  1. giordanobruno September 26, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    “you should be leppin’ mad – not just at the pathetically small figures of transfer but at the need for two separate education systems at any level.”
    Are you now an advocate for integrated education in the North? Good man.

    • Jude Collins September 26, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Ha ha – I like your imaginative leap, giord. Actually I’m totally behind integrated education if that’s the parents’ choice. I know it’s a terribly subtle difference, but I’m talking about the integration of systems, not students. If you peer hard enough at the small print it’ll probably register.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      ha ha – i like your imaginative response to giord. so you’re against integrated education but if the parents opt for it you’re totally behind them. i had a look at that small print and just cant seem to find it. but then i went to a “protestant” school and not a state school and thats likely the reason why.

    • Jude Collins September 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Actually I’m not against it – I’m against people who think the problem here is that Protestants aren’t nice enough to Catholics and vice versa. I have this vague feeling that maybe there’s something more to it than that.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      well i dont know if you’re including me in the people you’re against but as ive said im not great on small print.one thing is sure we’re not nice enough to each other and it is a far bigger debate. anyway roll on the day when the children are not glaring at each other as they leave their different schools. of course parents can opt out if they choose to do so. but hopefully the kids will be telling mum and dad they dont want to miss out on the fun.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      I do believe the south is part of my country. Twill be interesting to see if that view is shared by the Irish passport office…

  2. Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    It seems some aren’t prepared to sell land to Catholics/Republicans/Nationalists but are prepared to sell their cultural soul for money!

  3. Anonymous September 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Uniting the the island under one sovereign government is a moral and strategic imperative and it is not in the gift of the chattering (espresso imbibing) classes in D4 or elsewhere to deny this inevitable outcome.

    Not a perfect analogy..but reminds me of West German chauvinism in advocating a high falutin and superior attitude to their East German neighbours, oblvious to the turning of the wheel of history that led to inevitable re-unifcation.

  4. Anonymous September 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    ‘Inevitable re-unification’? LOL!