NSEC E-Consultation Context

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This page sets out the course of events that led to NSEC conducting a consultation exercise.

Historical Context of Ireland

The advent of changes has seen had many positive impacts on the level of interaction between the north of Ireland (Northern Ireland) and the Republic of Ireland.

One of the changes in Ireland is the increasing level of exchange and cooperation between education agencies. Over the last decades, thousands of schools and youth groups have participated in exchanges and cooperative activities between the north and south of Ireland.

Exchanges and cooperative activities have increased steadily from initial small exchanges to become a highly complex web of cross-border activity. The activity has also required substantial financial support and developed diverse programme criteria and objectives.

Need to Manage North/South Cooperation

Given this complexity, the Departments of Education north and south recognized that a cohesive and transparent structure was needed to manage and facilitate this tremendous exchange activity.

For example, in the last five years approximately 3,000 schools and youth groups were supported. This involved in excess of 55,000 participants in cross-border exchange and cooperative activities. The majority of organisations (64%) are drawn from the formal sector and 36% from the non-formal sector.

Role of the North South Exchange Consortium

Given the high levels of activity in this area, the North South Exchange Consortium (NSEC) was given an oversight role by the Department of Education (Northern Ireland) and the Department of Education and Science (Ireland).

NSEC are to act as an independent and impartial monitoring and evaluation group. NSEC, therefore, work in the context of a programme framework. This framework seeks to:

  • identify good practice
  • identify the best use of resources and the added value of present cross-border programmes in the fields of formal and non-formal educational exchange and cooperation, with a view to advising the Departments on a more effective and efficient use of resources
  • identify gaps in provision
  • analyse the resources required and to invite and assess proposals for current and future providers to address those gaps
  • to examine existing provision

Developing and maintaining lines of communication

A key element of the NSEC work plan is to develop and maintain lines of communication with various stakeholders involved in North-South Exchange programmes. More specifically programmes aim to:

  1. Manage the development and implementation of the North South School and Youth Exchange and Co-operation Programme Framework in partnership with the Department of Education and Science (Ireland) and the Department of Education (Northern Ireland).
  2. Establish and maintain collaborative working relationships with the range of formal and non-formal education and youth work agencies North and South.
  3. Ensure that NSEC has an effective and active media and public affairs capability and where appropriate articulate the Consortium’s position to the range of interested parties, including statutory, voluntary and private sector bodies.
  4. Support and advise the Programme Management Committee and the Consortium through the development and provision of briefing papers, reports and presentations in respect of policy, strategy and operations.
  5. Identify opportunities to respond to the needs of the educational and youth sectors in developing an inter-cultural and North/South dimension to their work.

NSEC: Using E-Technologies to develop communications

Given the latter programme, NSEC was therefore very interested in developing additional channels of communication through e-technologies. Using e-technologies would increase NSEC's capacity to:

  1. Run consultation initiatives
  2. Facilitate consultations with large groups of their stakeholders, such as school children.