Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Putting sailing on the curriculum?

26th March 2009

When the then Minister for Education Mary Hanafin spoke about putting sailing on the school curriculum at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire she spoke with some conviction. It wasn’t a gimmick because the general election was over. She was launching the Laser 4.7 European championships, just one of a number major sailing events for her Dun Laoghaire constituency that occur each year, an affluent Dublin suburb with four waterfront yacht clubs, a magnificent man-made harbour and an 800-berth state¬of-the-art marina.

Last month in the same venue, the Minister launched the 2012 World youth sailing championships for the East Coast town.

Up to 500 boats will take part in July’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta, an event managed jointly by all the clubs. It’s an indication of what can be achieved by working together and allows the south Dublin town to live up to its billing as ‘the Cowes of the Irish Sea’.

But the minister had to refer to Schull Community School in West Cork to give an example of a school that goes sailing as most other schools are content with PE.

In spite of many individual attempts to promote the concept of school sailing, it has never taken off in the town. What is required now is a new initiative to get schhol children afloat both in Dun Laoghaire and nationally. There are enough school-going children in the Dun Laoghaire area to make this the ideal place to push the idea on.

The four waterfront clubs should not see their combined regatta as the final result of pooling resources - instead they should see this as a starting point to build a marine leisure future in the harbour. By investing in the schools, they will be investing in the future. Lessons can be learned from West Cork that will benefit everyone.

If you think island school children should learn how to sail as part of the school day we want to hear from you. Afloat is compiling comments from around the coast about what schools are sailing and those trying to get afloat. We want to her from teachers and parents but most of all students (subject to adult permission) who are keen to put sailing on the curriculum. Leave your comments and ideas below Team

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