Fight to save Killowen goes to Stormont
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
STAFF from the threatened Killowen Outdoor Education Centre took their fight to Stormont last week when they met with the Education Minister Peter Weir.
The campaign to keep the outdoor education centre (OEC) open has been gathering pace since it was announced that Killowen, along with Ardanabannon in Castlewellan, Delamont in Killyleagh and Bushmills OEC, will all face closure in August 2017.
Staff from all of the centres at risk met with Mr Weir to discuss their concerns and South Down MLA Colin McGrath, a former youth worker, described the centres as "an essential and integral element" of the education system.
Last Wednesday (November 30), the trade union UNISON spoke at an education committee at Down High School to put forward its case for the retention of the OECs.
It is hoped the closures could save the Education Authority around £1.5 million.
Sinn Fein's South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has written to the Education Minister and called on him to "listen" to the people of the constituency.
“As outdoor education centres they provide quality learning experiences in the outdoors for all young people in the area and provide experiences that other centres, like youth centres, can't provide," said Ms Ruane.
“I offer my full support for both centres remaining open and I have already written to the Minister for Education regarding this.
“They aid our young people by offering a place where they can enjoy themselves while also being outside exercising.
“I believe this funding should be continued for both these centres and I call on the Minister to listen to the people of South Down and keep Killowen and Ardnabannon open."
Killowen OEC is situated just 2km from Rostrevor, on the northern shore of Carlingford Lough and the centre provides a fully equipped centre and accommodation for 48 students.
Using the outdoors, Killowen delivers social, personal and educational opportunities to young pupils in order to enhance and compliment the development, awareness and environmental responsibility of young people and their leaders.
The public consultation on the proposals to close the OECs will run until February 2017.
If you would like to help save Killowen you can sign the online petition at www.change.org/p/northern-ireland-assembly-save-killowen-outdoor
You can also fill in the public consultation questionnaire on the Education Authority's website www.eani.org.uk/consultations
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