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Scouting a rewarding way for young people to develop outside of school - O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has hailed scouting as a hugely rewarding way for young people to develop themselves and complement school learning.
~ Monday, 16 June 2014

The Minister today met with Scouting Ireland, the voluntary organisation which represents over 500 scout groups across the island, including around 50 in the north.

Welcoming Scouting Ireland’s strategy for developing the organisation, the Minister said: “Scouting is one of the most popular and rewarding ways for children and young people, from age six right through adulthood, to get involved in activities outside of school that will broaden their experience and help develop their potential and skills. With this in mind, I very much welcome the opportunity to meet with representatives from Scouting Ireland to discuss their vision for the future.

“Scouting aligns well with the aims of my own Priorities for Youth strategy, launched late last year, which sets out the way ahead for youth services in the north. Indeed Scouting Ireland is participating in a advisory group, along with a range of other bodies, to provide advice to the Education Library Boards and the Youth Council on the development of a regional plan for the future delivery of youth services here and their input is welcome and valuable.

“My Department, through the Youth Council, has allocated the northern operation of Scouting Ireland over £65,000 for this financial year to help it deliver educational and enjoyable activities to thousands of local young people, regardless of gender or religious or social background. I commend the organisation for its commitment to developing young people and in particular thank all the many volunteers who freely give of their own time to help.”

The Minister added: “I also wish Scouting Ireland well in its bid to host the 2021 World Scout Moot in Ireland. This quadrennial global scouting convention is a prestigious event that attracts thousands of scouts from across the world.”

John Lawlor, Chief Executive of Scouting Ireland, said: “We regularly hear that what society needs now are problem-solving skills, teamwork and creativity: these are essentially the skills that are developed in the scouts. Research has shown the importance of the 80% of time that young people spend out of school in their educational development. Scouting follows an educational programme which liberates the learner.

“Scouting Ireland is a volunteer-led organisation supported by 35 full-time employees. There are 285 volunteers for every one employee, which I believe is one of the highest ratios of any voluntary organisation. Our efforts and resources are therefore focused on supporting our 500 Scout Groups and delivering a strong programme which meets the needs of our scouts.”