Síol Newsletter – Summer 2019
Gerry Bennett, Chief Executive, ERST, Opening Welcome, Síol Newsletter – Summer 2019
Networking to our Strengths
Over the past few weeks I have had the honour of visiting quite a number of your schools. As I was travelling to Cork, Wexford and Ennis, to name a few of those locations, it really struck me just how diverse, innovative and strong our network of schools is. In my travels I had the opportunity to meet students in some of our very oldest schools – many with histories spanning over 200 years. I also got to meet and see the wonderful art and project work of those attending our very newest school in Carpenterstown-Castleknock, in Dublin, which was established just over two years ago. And while each of you is very much tied to your own school activities, your own school friends and your own communities, it also struck me as we travelled around the country, that each one of you is also part of a much bigger school community – that is the community or network of Edmund Rice Schools that is thriving both here in Ireland and across the world.
Let’s just think about the statistics for a moment. Our network of 96 primary and secondary schools makes us the largest network of schools with a similar ethos in Ireland. Within our schools here, we are teaching and guiding over 37,000 students and young people. And further afield, when we link into our Edmund Rice Schools across the globe as part of Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders, we, collectively are reaching over 170,000 pupils. That’s two Croke Parks filled to capacity every day, with another 10,000 people watching outside on a big screen! But perhaps what makes us stand out as a network beyond just our numbers is our collective focus on social justice and equality.
As a network of 96 schools here in Ireland, and as a network of 279 schools globally, we can be a strong and committed voice for positive social change on key issues of our time. Our Charter tells us that “Major challenges face humanity, including environmental degradation, limits to material resources, and threats to bio-diversity. The Edmund Rice School encourages the whole school community to work for social and ecological justice in the school and in society generally”.
This year, as Edmund Rice Schools, we will be working on network-wide positions on ecological and social justice. We will focus on areas such as climate justice, direct provision, and homelessness, to name but a few, as they relate to people’s lives here in Ireland but also as these issues relate to the lives of our fellow students and teachers across the globe. We can choose to speak out and take actions on these issues as individuals, or as individual schools as many of you are already doing. However, I think, that as a strong and vibrant network we can have even more impact when we work together. That’s why I am so excited about networkwide initiatives like our Walk in My Shoes Days and our Ecology Project to decrease our use of single-use plastics for example.
As we move forward, I urge you all to get to know more about the Edmund Rice Schools with whom you share a connection. Try to get involved in our network activities if you can. And remember to tell us what you are doing to make a difference in your own communities so that we can share your news with others. Together we really can be much greater than the sum of our parts.
Edmund Rice Schools