Climate strike and schools

 

Sir, – Your news reveals an alarming hypocrisy from certain south Dublin schools on the issue of climate change (“Dublin school warns pupils off ‘infuriating’ climate strikes”, Education, September 18th).

At the core of many south Dublin private schools is an ethos of service to others. Rightly or wrongly, most are founded on the principle that their students will be equipped to lead change for the better in society, following an education that emphasises the importance of social justice and the need to speak out when others do not. It is often these merits that the schools assert when criticised for their exclusivity and privileged nature.

In refusing to encourage full participation by all students in the climate strike, these schools shun the ethos and mission statements that they laud and turn to at every possible occasion.

In his “welcome” on the Blackrock College website, principal Alan McGinty states that, “Education is about much more than the transfer of knowledge”, yet queries in his letter to parents why the climate strike must take place on a school day and remarks that it will have a “negative impact on schooling”.

In her letter to parents at Alexandra College, principal Barbara Ennis asks parents if it is “advisable for your daughter to miss class’, despite an emphasis on “civic responsibility” and “the building of a better society” in the school’s online mission statement.

There are many more south Dublin schools that are snubbing the climate strike for algebra revision on Friday. These schools claim to equip their students to act and to lead. We need them to act now. We need them to lead now. The governing bodies’ refusal to encourage their students to act is shameful.

Enough with the mission statements; it’s time to take a stand. – Yours, etc,

PETER McCORMICK,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Over the past year young people around the world have resorted to peaceful protests in unprecedented numbers because they care deeply and passionately about the issue of climate justice and its impact on human life and the ecology of our planet.

The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, and an essential form of democratic expression and participation.

By organising and leading these hugely effective demonstrations, many of those marching today are using the only form of political expression available to them.

In Ireland, as in many other countries, we do not allow young people under the age of 18 to vote. We should celebrate the courage and civic responsibility of those students to have come out to march today on all of our behalf. One would hope that progressive schools seeking to foster active citizenship among their pupils would do so too. – Yours, etc,

LIAM HERRICK,

Executive Director,

Irish Council

for Civil Liberties,

Dublin 8