6/09/2006

Christian Brothers to pull out of formal education

I see that the Christian Brothers have decided to end two centuries of direct involvement in the Irish education system. The Christian Brothers are reportedly setting up a new lay establishment to take over the running of 138 schools currently under the order's control.



Reports this morning said the Brothers were planning to hand over 29 primary schools and 109 secondary schools to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which will be run by entirely by lay people.

Junior Minister Brian Lenihan has paid tribute to the contribution the Christian Brothers have made to Irish education. He said the Irish people should not forget the good work they put into education, while also confronting the reality of the abuse that took place in some schools.

"The Brothers did fantastic work in education," Mr Lenihan said. "Many, many people who would never had had educational opportunities got those opportunities because of the Christian Brothers. On the other hand, of course, there were abuses and we have to confront that reality in our past as well."

I would agree with Mr Lenihan when he says that we should remember the good as well as the bad. The problem for the Brothers is that the abuse was so bad that it may overshadow the good work that they have done for Irish boys for almost two centuries.

I am a former Christian Brothers boy and I received an excellent education and for that I will always be grateful. I was only ever taught by one Brother and he was fantastic, really down to earth and made religion appealing in modern times.

My Grandfather refused to let my father attend a Brothers school because of the physical abuse that he received at their hands. The Christian Brothers have a lot of forgiveness to seek and I hope that they do.

I was taught the typical Brothers philosophy that where you find injustice you fight it, you don't cower down and let it pass. You speak up for what is right while condeming what is wrong or as Brother McFarland would say

'Get up on your hind legs and speak!'

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