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Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Rally urges end to 11-plus
The 11-plus test has sparked controversy
The 11-plus test has sparked controversy
About 100 people have attended a rally in Belfast calling for an end to the selection process in education.

Organised by the Campaign Against Selection (CAS), the protestors called on Northern Ireland's Education Minister Martin McGuinness to abolish the 11-plus immediately.


All children should be valued equally

John Price, CAS

A number of trade union representatives, a teacher and a student addressed the crowd outside the College of Art, before the marchers headed to the City Hall.

The rally was then addressed by a range of assembly members.

John Price, secretary of the CAS, said the aim of the event was to convince the assembly that any form of selection "deepens injustice and inequality."

"All children should be valued equally, " he said.

"The 11-plus has gone on long enough.

"We want to impress on the assembly that not only should the 11-plus go ahead this year, but that it should not be replaced with an updated method of dividing children into an elite and a majority of failures."

Among those expected to attend the rally were Alban McGuinness of the SDLP, Monica McWilliams of the Women's Coalition and Billy Hutchinson of the Progressive Unionist Party.

Education minister Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness: Hope for confidence in selection review process

The rally comes against a backdrop of a review of the selection procedure in the province.

A review body is due to report its recommendations to the Northern Ireland education minister later this year.

But any major changes are likely to take a number of years to implement.

This year, a total of 17, 063 pupils took the 11-plus tests which determine whether they will be to attend the school of their choice next year.

A total of 6,420 pupils were awarded the top 'A' grade in Northern Ireland.

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See also:

28 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
NI education debate begins
05 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Red letter day for pupils
18 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Vice-chancellor criticises transfer test
05 Nov 99 | Education
Questions over 11-plus exams
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