Northern Ireland school children become refugees

By staff writers
June 15, 2009

School children in a Northern Ireland school which was set up to break down barriers between Protestant and Catholic children, are to become refugees for a day as they learn about life as asylum-seekers.

Primary 7 children from the Millennium Integrated Primary School in Saintfield, will be dressing up as refugees and attempting to flee from their homes, cross borders and secure asylum for themselves and their families to mark Refugee Week.

It will involve performance of a role-play school assembly for younger pupils, which the children have developed with the support of Amnesty International.

The children have also created a 'welcome pack' for children who are refugees or from overseas who might come to the school.
Amnesty International have been working with the school over recent months as part of the internationally recognised 'Lift Off' human rights education project. The school activities, which mark the start of Refugee Week in Northern Ireland, aims to highlight the positive contribution of refugees and asylum seekers.

Barry Corrigan, Primary 7 teacher and Vice-Principal of the Millennium Integrated Primary School, said: “This project has been a tremendous learning experience for our children. In Northern Ireland we can lead pretty comfortable lives, not thinking too much about the problems face by others. Working with Amnesty International has enabled other pupils to imagine life as a refugee child and discover how much human rights really matter."

Stella Murray of Amnesty International said: "The Lift Off programme has been a huge success in primary schools throughout Northern Ireland. This project on refugees is one example of how it can be used to learn about human rights at home and around the world and can lead to practical outcomes, like the welcome pack the children at Millennium have created."

The school was opened in 2000 with just 10 pupils. Its enrolment currently stands at over 170 children.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.