On 21 March, the Minister of Education of the Northern Ireland Executive addressed the 23rd EUROCLIO Annual Conference “Reimagining Remembrance”. The Minister welcomed local and international delegates of the conference on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive:
I am delighted that EUROCLIO chose Belfast as the venue for this year’s conference. The theme is particularly relevant for schools in the North this year, given that the spring and summer of 2016 will see two important events being commemorated locally, the Easter Rising and the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Both events have shaped cultural and political attitudes here and I am sure delegates will have much to share on how we encourage all our young people to appreciate the historical and contemporary significance of the events that took place one hundred years ago.
During his speech Minister O’Dowd also mentioned efforts of his department to reform curricula and provide new educational resources in Northern Ireland: “I commissioned the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to prepare a ‘1916 Mutual Understanding’ programme for schools. This is now available and will provide teachers with curricular support and materials to enable them to explore the history and legacy of the events we are marking this year.” O’Dowd stressed that in order to implement the curricula, “we have to rely on the professionalism of our teachers.”
The Ministry of Education has launched a campaign titled “Education Works” to help parents get involved in their children’s education.
The seminar took place in a beautiful seaside city of Ballycastle (Northern Ireland) from the 19th to the 23rd of September 2012. It was participated by 25 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, England, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, The Netherlands. On the 19th of September, some of the participants joined an optional on-site learning programme in the city of Belfast which included introduction to History of Northern Ireland by Peter Collins from St. Mary’s College and visit to Murals in Belfast. The rest part of the programme took place in Derry/Londonderry and Ballycastle at the Corrymeela Community Centre. After the introduction to the programme and key note lecture on the Northern Ireland Context by Alan McCully from University of Ulster which took place in Corrymeela, participants visited the Nerve Centre in Derry/Londonderry and participated in the workshop on Teaching History through Multi-Media Approaches run by a project, Teaching Divided History’ by Matthew McAleer (The Creative Media Facilitator and Trainer on the Teaching Divided Histories project). The programme in Derry/Londonderry was followed with the visit to Free Derry Museum and optional on-site learning programme in Bogsides. The second and the third days of the programme were filled with different interesting workshops by local and international trainers, panel presentations on ‘Dealing with Sensitive Issues in Contemporary History Teaching’, presentation of Historiana project and case studies. On the last day of the seminar, participants had the chance to reflect on the issues that stroke them much during the programme and think about the best gained knowledge and experience they will take home. The participants described the seminar as the great learning experience. All activities in the programme served to build a better understanding about the nature of conflict in Northern Ireland, share experiences and feelings of people who experienced conflicts in their countries and think together on best ways how to deal with troubles, sensitive and controversial issues in the classroom among their students. The seminar will be followed up with the report describing broader context of the event and interesting quotations by local and international History teachers.