The Orange Order has said that many Catholic schools have welcomed it to give presentations to pupils, but questioned why the same is not happening in most state schools.
An editorial in the Order’s official publication, The Orange Standard, said that at the recent launch of one of its educational initiatives the only school represented had been a Catholic school from Armagh, while a representative from the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools was also present.
The Order said that its educational programmes “have been finding a home within the maintained sector for some time now” and went on: “This engagement with the maintained sector has included historical talks, presentations and even, in one instance, a Lambeg drumming workshop.”
It added: “There is no mistaking the interest in the Orange tradition or the desire to understand it within those schools engaging with the education programme.”
Mindful of some opposition to the Order’s attempts to modernise by reaching out to those who are not natural supporters of the Institution, the editorial said: “There is nothing which threatens the Orange tradition by telling its story and explaining its background and its position in society. We have nothing to hide and much to share.”
However, the editorial went on to question why “relatively few” state schools had entered such a “healthy engagement” with it.
It asked: “Is this a symptom of lack of confidence? Is prejudice at play? What concerns lie behind this situation? If the Orange Order educational programme is good enough for the maintained sector, then it is certainly good enough for the state sector too.”
But the Order said that there was an “onus” on its members to serve on schools’ boards of governors to push for such visits.