Education in Ireland : A comparison of the education systems in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Dominic Murray, Alan Smith, Ursula Birthistle

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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There is a general acceptance that education is likely to be the most powerful instrument in increasing mutual understanding and perhaps increased co-operation within and between the two parts of Ireland. While there are specific programmes and strategies designed to achieve these purposes in both jurisdictions, it is still remarkable that so little mutual awareness exists about the educational systems in the north and south of the island. There is some sharing of knowledge between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but this has tended to occur most often at the higher levels of the system e.g. the Departments of Education, curriculum councils etc. But at teacher and pupil level there remains little knowledge of the 'other system'. The European Trade Union Committee for Education and the European Commission have called for the promotion of co-operation and sharing of information among all countries of the European Union at an educational level. Similar calls have been made by the OECD and UNESCO. It would seem that nowhere is such a sharing process more important than between the north and south of Ireland. The purpose of this report therefore is threefold. In the first place an attempt is made to provide comprehensive descriptions of the structure and practice of education in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Secondly, an account is given of current contact and cooperation existing between the two. Thirdly, tentative recommendations are proffered with regard to areas where further research would be useful and strategies which may be introduced in order to facilitate increased mutual understanding. The Education Bill Republic of Ireland (1997) was published when this project was at an advanced stage. Where possible its implications are referred to in the main body of this report and a synopsis is also included as appendix one. The research was funded by The Irish Times Limited and commenced in Spring 1995.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Limerick
Number of pages124
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1997


  • education mutual understanding northern ireland republic of irelend


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