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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 July, 2004, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Rural education under spotlight
Island of Skye
Skye is the setting for the six-day conference
Delegates from across Europe are on Skye for a six-day conference on preserving education in rural areas.

The first Interskola conference took place in Aberdeen in 1967, and since then in places like Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Organisers of this year's event says it offers delegates a chance to visit an island community which has experienced recent rejuvenation.

The conference is at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, a partner college within the University of the Highlands and Islands.

During the conference, those attending will hear about the creation of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which is a unique partnership of 15 colleges and research institutes.

There will be visits around the island and delegates will be able to see for themselves the way community planning, health, housing, education, culture and sport work in Skye.

Valuable forum

The government's public private partnership will be put under the microscope during a visit to Ardnamurchan Community School.

The first conference back in the 1960s was built around discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of small school units in areas of sparse population in North West Europe.

But over the years aspects of cultural and linguistic identity, particularly within minority cultures and language groups, have become hot topics.

And a particular discussion point has been made of the need to create sustainable educational and economic systems to meet the requirements of the modern world in rural or peripheral areas.

Organisers of Interskola believe that the value of the conferences has been recognised widely within educational circles across Europe and beyond.

They say it has offered many people a network of colleagues working within similar circumstances.

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