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Partial picture of peace programme

I WAS disappointed at the sensationalist and highly selective report under the headline "Scheme to bring peace backfires" (TES, September 1).

In the short article you arbitrarily selected several negative quotations from a report issued 15 months ago and gave a completely unbalanced impression of the report as whole.

The quotes from children who have taken part in the Schools' Community Relations Programme in Northern Ireland were used to imply that the whole scheme has increased sectarian abuse rather than ameliorated it. You also failed to make the distinction between these voluntary inter-school contact rogrammes and the statutory educational theme of Education for Mutual Understanding.

The report is a serious piece of research on the ways in which schools support children in relation to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Inside the Gates: Schools and the Troubles was published by the Save the Children Fund in June 1999 and examined the practices of a sample of schools, noting the views of teachers and pupils.

I hope readers will not be misled by your simplistic approach.

Norman L Richardson

Co-ordinator for Education for Mutual Understanding

Stranmillis University College, Belfast

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