Two pupils and a teacher from every post-primary school in Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to visit the World War One battlefields as part of a newly launched government scheme.
Education Minister Peter Weir and Communities Minister Paul Givan jointly launched the project which will allow local school children to visit France and Belgium.
The Battlefields Project will be open to every post-primary school in Northern Ireland and youth groups will also be given the opportunity to benefit from the scheme.
Similar schemes have been running in England and Scotland for a number of years.
At the launch in the Somme Centre, the Education Minister Peter Weir said: “As we mark the Centenary events of the Great War, it is fitting that our schoolchildren have the chance to learn about the realities of war and how the sacrifices made between 1914 and 1918 have shaped our world today.
“Millions of people lost their lives during the First World War and that must never be forgotten. That is why I believe it is so important that our young people should be encouraged to remember those who died. This scheme will be open to children from all backgrounds and is a unique opportunity to learn about our past.
“The Education Authority will take this scheme forward, and a letter will issue today to all post-primary schools asking them to express an interest in participating in this scheme. I hope all schools will avail of this valuable opportunity.”
Communities Minister Paul Givan added: “My Department is committed to supporting young people from schools and youth groups to visit First World War battlefield sites in Belgium and France.
“These visits are essential for those interested in developing a wider understanding of the sacrifice that so many men, many from Northern Ireland, made a hundred years ago.
“They will be able to visit places of significance to our community memory including cemeteries, memorials, battle remains and museums. It also gives young people in Northern Ireland the same opportunity as schools in England who are already receiving financial support to visit the battlefields.”
The scheme will be administered by the Education Authority (EA) and jointly funded by both Departments.
The Education Authority issued a letter yesterday (Tuesday) to all post-primary schools asking them to submit an expression of interest in participating in the scheme.