Look again at segregated schools

17th January 2003 at 00:00
While I can go along with much that Ewan Aitken says in his article on shared campuses (TESS, January 10), I think he is mistaken in thinking that sectarianism in Scotland would be seriously diminished if the various Christian churches decided "to break bread together in worship".

The great majority of school pupils and their parents no longer "break bread" in any church and the same is true of most Rangers and Celtic supporters. While some part of the origins of the problem can be found in theological debates that took place 300 years ago, the major source is in the conflict over national identity in the north of Ireland.

This spilt over into Scotland in the early part of the 20th cen-tury and resulted, particularly in western Scotland, in a tribalismthat is only tenuously connected to religion.

It follows from this that we should shift our attention from the causes of sectarianism, which are increasingly remote and irrelevant, to the elimination of it.

In doing this, we shall inescapably have to consider the position of Catholic schools, these being almost the only public sector schools in Scotland that have a purported religious identity, an identity which, unfairly I agree,has become associated over the best part of a century with tribal identity.

If we are serious about eliminating sectarianism and the discrimination that is associated with it, we must consider the one feature of our educational system that has the potential to perpetuate an outmoded and damaging social division still affecting many of our communities on a daily basis.

Fred Forrester

North Larches, Dunfermline

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