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Education

ITM Education Working Group


ITM Education Working Group Members in disucssion at the 2008 AGM


ITM Education Working Group

Who are we?

We are a group of Travellers and settled people committed to actively pushing for equality and outcomes in Traveller education

The ITM Education Working Group is a forum where issues relating to the whole life experience of Travellers in education are discussed.

Aims of the ITM Education Working Group

  • Provide a forum where issues concerning Traveller education can be discussed and debated
  • To share information at a local and regional level in order to feed into national policies and initiatives, for example the implementation of the Traveller Education Strategy and soon to be re-established Advisory Committee on Traveller Education
  • To document the experiences of Travellers in education
  • To meet Traveller parents throughout the country
  • To support Traveller representatives on the Advisory Committee on Traveller Education and the Traveller Education Strategy
  • To influence policy at a local, regional and national level
  • To lobby for change and for use of resources that make positive changes in education for Travellers

How to get involved

Any member of the Irish Traveller Movement is welcome and encouraged to join the ITM Education Working Group

Contact Details

Mary Cassidy                                                                 Paula Madden
Chairperson of the ITM Education Working Group         ITM Education Worker
Tallaght Travellers CDP                                                  4-5 Eustace Street
Unit 1A                                                                          Dublin 2
Killinarden Enterprise Park                   
Dublin 24                                                                       01-6796577
01-4664334                                                                  educationitm@gmail.com



Actions undertaken in 2009

The Education Working Group in 2009 held five regional workshops in Sligo, Limerick, Macroom, Tullamore and Kilkeeny with 35 member groups participating. The Group consists of representatives from Clondalkin Travellers Development Group, Tallaght Travellers CDP, Tullamore Travellers Movement, Barnardos/ TESO, the Parish of the Travelling People, National Traveller MABS, the Visiting Teacher Service for Traveller Education and Pavee Point. Inputs are also given from other member organisations who cannot attend meetings via phone, post or email and ITM members with an interest in education are encouraged to join the Working Group by contacting educationitm@gmail.com

The Education Working Group meetings aim to engage Travellers and Traveller parents in discussions about Traveller education and to look at the issues that they experience locally. The meetings also act as a platform to raise awareness about education and accessing rights in education.

The Education Working Group, in conjunction with Graínne O’Toole, developed an education section for the ITM Legal Packs. (link for education legal pack) This developed directly from member organisations at the AGM, who felt education legal rights should be addressed in the legal pack. The EWG also developed an information leaflet for Traveller parents on the budget cuts in May 09 (see ITM publications section on this website)   The Working Group will continue to develop education resources for member organizations in light of new education developments and suggestions through consultation with member organizations.

The ITM Education webpage in the future will look to highlight the work of member organisations in education and initiatives that local Traveller organisations have been involved in. This will provide an invaluable resource for member organisations to highlight their achievements in providing education resources and programmes, and hopefully will act to provide ideas and inspiration for other member organisations in the future. If you would like to highlight an education project that your local Traveller organisation was involved in, contact the ITM at (01) 6796577 or email educationitm@gmail.com


Role of the Working Group

The role of the ITM Education Working Group is as follows:

  • It develops policy on education for the ITM to be adopted by the Central Group or ITM members
  • It disseminates policy to members
  • It allows for information to filter up from a local level to national
  • It allows for networking between local and national
  • It can also look at specific local issues and develop responses


Structure of Meetings

The Education Working Group meets approximately every six weeks. Meetings are held around the country and not specifically in Dublin. Member organisations often suggest locations in order to meet a need for debate around specific education areas. Meetings are broken down into two parts: the first section is a meeting with local parents, where local concerns can be raised and awareness raised; and the second half a business meeting for members of the working group.

Meeting with Traveller parents and Traveller learners to discuss education is crucial. As most local groups do not have staff that specifically focus on education and that hosting meetings affords the opportunity to discuss national developments and get local feedback. Education Working group meetings could easily become focussed on policy development; meetings with local groups keep the Working Group grounded in day to day issues. Workshops should be developed with Traveller children to get their needs and views, and to also focus on those who have left mainstream education to see what their needs and options are.

An agenda is agreed by the chair of the group and sent out to members at least one week in advance of the next meeting. Organisation of the next meeting is a constant item on the agenda, is as a space for information sharing on upcoming events and publications. Individual members can suggest items for the agenda by contacting ITM staff, who can then send it to the chair. Minutes taken at the previous meeting will also be circulated well in advance.

Guidelines for group hosting meeting

For the hosting group, there are a number of tasks. The first is to make contact (if not already made) with local Travellers, to see if there is any interest in participating in a discussion on education. If there is an interest in organising a forum with local parents, ideally an agenda should be drawn up. This way, local parents can decide what areas they want discussed with the education working group; once this has been agreed, the working group can be contacted. If a specific area is to be covered, a specific input can be given e.g. an input could be given on pre-schools, what current provision and practice is. This would help to move the discussion on, and would perform a key role in providing Traveller parents with information on current practices in education, and measures that may need to be challenged. Preparation work will also allow local Travellers to assess what areas they would like to see changed etc. and this can be channelled back to the working group so that they can be prepared and have as much information ready as possible. Once a rough estimate of numbers is available, the hosting group should ensure that a suitable space can be made available for the meeting. If the local group does not have room, a local hall/ community centre etc. should be booked. The ITM will cover the costs for renting the space.

Starting the meeting

Everyone should introduce themselves, and a brief introduction by the chair should explain the purpose of the meeting. Ground rules for participating should be raised at this point, including:

  • The chair will invite participants to speak
  • Each person having the opportunity to speak
  • Respecting other people to speak (if someone else is speaking, no talking over them)
  • Not mentioning individual names of people who are not present at the meeting

If a specific topic has been chosen and an input can be given, this should be done at this stage. If there has been no specific request for an input, meetings can start by using the ITM “Moving On” video as an ice-breaker. These have been used before and can have the benefit of providing a topic for discussion. The hosting group, if interested in doing this, should contact the education worker to bring a copy of either/ both to the meeting and arrange to have a DVD/ video and TV at the venue for showing either of these.

Once the presentation/ DVD/ video has ended, the chair will open the floor to observations. If there is a large number attending, it may be worthwhile to break into smaller groups to allow everyone the space to get their views across. When this happens, notes from each group should be relayed to the education worker for inclusion in the overall minutes.

Membership of the Working Group

Membership of the ITM education working group is open to ITM member organisations who have an interest in education. Currently the membership of the group is made up of:

Mary Cassidy, Chair of the Working Group (Tallaght Travellers CDP)
Mary Allen (Visiting Teacher for Travellers Service)
Collette Murray (Pavee Point)
Dermot Sreenan (National Traveller MABS)
Maureen Ward (Midland Regional Youth Service)
Ashling O’Sullivan (Clondalkin Travellers Development Group)
Cristina Hurson (Tullamore Traveller Movement)
Biddy Kavanagh (Tullamore Traveller Movement)
Charlie McDonagh (Tullamore Traveller Movement)
Winnie McDonagh (TESO)
Catherine McCarthy (Clare Care)
Kathleen McDonagh (Exchange House)
Mary Sherlock (Galway Traveller Movement)
Annemaire McDonagh (Galway Traveller Movement)
Shirley Martin (Galway Traveller Movement)
Deirdre Barrett (West Limerick CDP)
Fionnuala Spillane (Longford Traveller Movement)
Aoife Cooke (St. Margaret’s Traveller Community Association)
Loretta Holleran (Mullingar Traveller’s Men’s Health Project)
Margaret McDonagh (STAG)
Paula Madden (ITM Education Worker)


Contact details for the group can be obtained from Paula Madden at 0872410258 or 01-6796577 or educationitm@gmail.com




Post-Primary Education


Post-Primary Education

The transfer rate for Travellers to post-primary level was 85 per cent in 2003. There are approximately 1,850 Traveller students in mainstream post-primary schools at present out of a possible 4,000 i.e. 46 per cent of all Traveller students of post-primary school age. The table below gives the estimated number of Traveller students in mainstream post-primary schools by class year of distribution for 2004/2005 as provided by the National Education Officer for Travellers (NEOT).


The estimated number of Traveller students in mainstream post-primary schools by year of distribution for 2004/2005:




One of the major problems for Traveller students is the high drop out rate from post-primary education that exists. The majority leave prior to completing the Junior Cycle. There have been some improvements as can be seen from table below which gives the estimated distribution of Traveller students in mainstream post-primary schools in recent years as provided by the NEOT.


The distribution of Traveller students in mainstream post-primary schools in recent years:




Traveller Specific Measures in Post-Primary Education

For each Traveller child enrolled in a post-primary school, an enhanced capitation grant is provided; namely €427 for each Traveller child in addition to the €286 standard capitation grant. Ex-quota hours are also allocated to schools on the basis of the number of Travellers enrolled. The posts are calculated as 1.5 hours per week for each Traveller child enrolled. At present, this equates to 140 whole-time equivalent posts in place throughout the country to provide specific educational support and pastoral care for Travellers attending post-primary school.

Other Support Services

Travellers are entitled to access other services and supports in primary education that are not Traveller specific. These include the School Completion Programme (SCP) and Home School Liaison scheme.



Current Concerns in Post-Primary Education

The main concern for Travellers and Traveller organizations is the high-drop out rate from Post-Primary education and the small numbers of Travellers receiving qualifications such as the Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate, and hence the small numbers that directly go to Higher Education. One of the direct reasons for this is the low-levels of attainment of Traveller children in primary education and the withdrawal from core subjects such as Irish. This directly impacts on Traveller children’s ability to participate in post-primary education as they are often under additional stress in trying to overcome educational disadvantage in what is recognized as a difficult transition from primary to post-primary (see Primary education section of the ITM Education webpage for more details). Another huge concern is the lack of validation of Traveller culture within the post-primary education system, which can often leave young Travellers feeling isolated or can lead them to hide their identity to avoid bullying and discrimination. The sense of isolation often means that young Travellers leave mainstream education into other education and training where they have support of Traveller peers and friends and they can be comfortable with their identity. The issue of training allowances acting as an unintended contributing factor to early-school leaving is addressed in the Further and Adult Education section of the ITM Education webpage. 

The Department of Education and Science has published Guidelines on Traveller Education in Second-Level Schools can be accessed at:
www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/pp_traveller_education.pdf


Junior Education Centres for Travellers

There are currently three Junior Education Centres for Travellers (JECT), which cater for 80 students aged 12-15 years. These are funded by the Department of Education and Science. The Task Force report of 1995 commented that the JECT appeared “to exist in a policy vacuum” and it is unclear what future they will have in an inclusive vision of education.





Legislation and Education


Legislation and Education

There are several pieces of legislation which govern education in Ireland and these can be accessed in the education section of the ITM Legal Pack. Full details of the following Acts can be accessed on the Internet.

Education Act 1998:

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/act_51_1998.pdf

Education (Welfare) Act 2000

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/act_22_2000.pdf

Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/educ_persons_special_ed_2003.pdf

The Equal Status Act

The Equal Status Act also applies in schools and the Equality Authority, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Science, has published an invaluable summary on how the Equality legislation governs practices in schools called Schools and the Equal Status Act (2nd Edition). This can be accessed at:

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/ge_schools_and_equality.pdf   




Recommendations of a Traveller Education Strategy


The Development of the Traveller Education Strategy

The Report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community in 1995 made 167 recommendations that related to education and training, which was more than half of the recommendations made in total in the report. From this a Joint Working Group, consisting of members of the Advisory Committee on Traveller Education (ACTE) and the Educational Disadvantage Committee (EDC) of the Department of Education and Science, was formed to develop a Traveller Education Strategy. ITM representatives, as members of the ACTE, were involved from the start in drafting the Traveller Education Strategy.

In order to best represent its member organisations in the development of the Traveller Education Strategy, The ITM, in conjunction with the National Traveller Women’s Forum and Pavee Point, organised 5 regional seminars and one national workshop on Traveller Education. Click to download the Consultations with Traveller Parents and Learners can be downloaded as a PDF.

The Report & recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy
 
The ITM continued to lobby the government to publish and implement the Traveller Education Strategy. The report & recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy was published on the 23rd of November 2006 and can be downloaded from www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/des_recom_traveller_educ_strategy.pdf. The strategy is wide-ranging; covering pre-school, primary, post-primary, further and adult education and higher education. The primary goal of the strategy is to achieve equality for Travellers in education, in terms of access, participation and outcomes.

A short summary of the strategy & its core principals developed by the ITM Education Working Group can also be made available to groups by mailing educationitm@gmail.com. An analysis of this document & its implementation for ITM members was discussed as part of regional workshops held all over the country in 2007 and 2008. Over 35 member organisations took part in the regional workshops and other member groups interacted in individual sessions.

The Advisory Committee on Traveller Education (ACTE) was to have a role in monitoring the implementations of the strategy. However the ACTE has not met since 2006 which has made it extremely difficult for the ITM to support Traveller & Traveller organisations to be part of the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the strategy. The ITM has been lobbying along with other National Traveller organisations for the implementation of the strategy and the reconvening of the ACTE. In late 2008 a commitment was finally given by the DES for the ACTE to be re-established, the first meeting of which is due to take place in the Autumn 2009.

ITM Education Submissions and Resources

In addition to submissions made in the development of the Traveller Education Strategy, submissions were also made on education to the National Action Plan on Social Inclusion (NAPSincl) and the Children’s Rights Alliance Combined Second and Third Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Presentations were made to the Emigrant Advice Network International Conference and AGM in November.

ITM’s joint submission with Pavee Point & NTWF on the DES Intercultural Education Strategy can be downloaded as a PDF here or viewed as a HTML here

Travellers in Education: Strategies for Equality 2004

In 2004, the ITM education report “Travellers in Education: Strategies for Equality” was published. This report looks at the existing education policies and the role of Traveller organisations in education provision and support.  This document can be downloaded as a a PDF by clicking  Travellers in Education

ITM Video ‘Moving On: Traveller and Third Level Education 2004

The ITM video “Moving On: Travellers and Third Level Education” was launched in conjunction with University College Cork in 2004. The video, which is also available as a DVD,  promotes the possibility and options for access to third level education for Travellers. If you wish to receive a copy of this video, please email educationitm@gmail.com The video costs €10 including post and packaging.

ITM information leaflet for Traveller parents on recent budget cuts May 2009

The ITM EWG produced an information leaflet for Traveller parents on the recent budget cuts. The leaflet can be adapted by groups to include local contact numbers etc.




Pre-Schools


Traveller Education: the Current Situation

Traveller pre-schools were set up prior to the investment in community childcare places under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP). In mid-2005 there was 45 Traveller pre-schools in existence.Most of them were established through voluntary, local development and later received support from the Department of Education and Science, the Department of Health and Children and various voluntary and charitable groups. Government policy as set out in the 2006 Strategy is to phase out segregated pre-school provision over a 5-10 year period. This process has started with Traveller pre-schools closing down where there are alternative places available in pre-schools in the community, where the Board of Management consider’s that the pre-school is no longer viable or at the recommendations of the Department’s Inspectorate. There are currently 29 segregated pre-schools for Travellers located throughout the country (link to list of pre-schools)

As an alternative to closure, some Traveller pre-schools have closed and re-opened as integrated community pre-schools. The Department however does not grant-aid such integrated pre-schools on what it described as 'grounds of equity' with community pre-schools in general. These pre-schools instead are funded under the National Childcare Investment Programme and have a tiered system of fees in place based on parental income. 2008 saw 3 Traveller pre-schools operating as integrated provision.

It is important to note that some Traveller children also attend community childcare facilities and the 40 Early Start pre-schools around the country, and some Traveller children access private early-schooling. Attendance at pre-school gives the young children a valuable educational experience and prepares them for primary education.

Free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE)

As part of the April 2009 Budget, a new scheme to provide for a free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) was announced by the Government.

The announcement of a free pre-school year for all children is a landmark development in the provision of early childhood care and education services for young children in Ireland.  The new scheme will be implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA), and will be open to all private and community pre-school services which meet the requirements of the scheme.  For further Information on the scheme (see attached and or contact the OMCYA helpline at 1890 30 30 39. Queries can also be directed to childcare_mail@health.gov.ie.  General information on the new scheme, together with answers to the most frequently-asked questions, can be accessed through the OMCYA website at www.omcya.ie


Concerns have raised about the inadequate funding for Traveller pre-schools, which results in unsuitable premises for early childhood education and the fact that there is no standardization in qualifications held by pre-school staff. Training should be provided for those currently involved in Traveller pre-schools to gain the necessary skills and qualifications to continue with their work. All pre-schools should have enrolment policies which guard against anti-Traveller racism and other forms of discrimination. Staff in pre-schools should receive training in equality and anti-racism and intercultural resources for use in pre-schools should be developed.

The Department of Education and Science carried out a national evaluation of the pre-schools for Travellers. The report of the evaluation was published in 2003 and it provides recommendations on how the early childhood education of very young Travellers can be improved. This can be accessed at: www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/preschool_traveller.pdf

The Department of Education and Science’s approach to early childhood education is underpinned by the White Paper on Early Childhood Education- Ready to Learn (1999). It can be accessed at: www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/contents.htm


Further information on Early Childhood care in Ireland and pre-school provision can be found in a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), titled the OECD Thematic review of Early Childhood Education and Care Policy in Ireland, which can be accessed at:
www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/oecd_thematic_reivew_early_childhood_background_report.pdf

The Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) was formed in 2002 to develop and co-ordinate early childhood education in accordance with the objectives of the White Paper ‘Ready to Learn’ and to advise the Department of Education and Science on policy issues on childhood education. For information on their research and publications, access their website at:  www.cecde.ie/

The Children’s Rights Alliance aims to secure the changes in legislation, policies and services required to ensure the implementation in Ireland of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and provides information on children’s rights in Ireland. Their website can be accessed at: www.childrensrights.ie




Primary Education


Primary Education

In 2005/2006 it is estimated that there are approximately 7,769 Traveller children enrolled in primary schools, and this equates to virtually 100% enrolment, with virtually all Traveller children now in age-appropriate classes. The exact number of Traveller children in primary schools is not known because that specific figure is not formally sought from schools. There is no data collected based on ethnicity. There are no special Traveller classes since the end of the school year 2003/2004 and there is only two Traveller-only primary school, St. Kieran’s in Bray and Thomas’s in Clonshaugh



Current Concerns in Primary Education:

Travellers and Traveller organizations have a number of concerns relating to Traveller education in Primary schools. Some Travellers still have difficulty in enrolling their children, and in some instances settled parents have taken their children out of school where a high percentage of Travellers are enrolled. The Visiting Teacher Service for Traveller Education (VTST) of the Department of Education and Science has been instrumental in empowering parents to access education for their children. The education section of the ITM Legal Pack also has details on how member organizations can support families who still face barriers, with a resource list on useful local contacts, including the VTST and the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB).  (Link to Ed section of legal pack)

Chief concern for Traveller parents is the low levels of attainment for their children in Primary education. Research under taken by the Department of Education and Science showed that parents felt that the education system was failing their children’s needs (from the Chief Inspectors Report 2001-2004, Department of Education and Science 2005).

The Chief Inspectors Report showed that “the levels of achievement of Traveller pupils were not on a par with their non-Traveller peers. An analysis of standardised test results showed that the measured achievement levels of approximately half the group surveyed were below the 10th percentile in English and Mathematics. It was found that the Traveller parents expected their children to acquire a mastery of literacy and numeracy skills in primary school. Some Traveller parents expressed their deep concerns about the low attainment of their children, particularly in relation to reading standards”.  Coupled with this are concerns about the withdrawal of Traveller children for learning support with the Resource Teacher for Travellers (RTT).

RTTs are allocated to schools on the basis of having 14 Traveller children with identified need. At present, Department of Education Policy under Circular 7/99 states that if children are to receive assistance for learning support they must have parental consent. Also the allocation of a Resource Teacher for Travellers (RTT) to a school is made on the basis that "Traveller children are taught either within their classroom with the RTT working in partnership with their classroom teacher or withdrawn in groups for intensive tuition according to their ages and perceived needs by the RTTs.” The Department of Education and Science’s Learning Support Guidelines provide a framework for how inclusive, supplementary teaching and support can be provided. Children attending the RTT are supposed to do so on the basis of perceived educational needs. Currently there are 503 RTTs employed by the Department of Education and Science. 

However it is clear to the ITM, through its consultations with Traveller parents and updates from member organisations, that parental consent for their children's referral to the RTT is often not sought, and that Traveller children are withdrawn to work with the RTT purely on the basis of ethnic identity and not on perceived educational need. The issue of withdrawal of Traveller children to the RTT during the classroom teaching of core subjects has also been raised. This means that Traveller children will not always access the whole school curriculum and greatly place them at an educational disadvantage when they transfer to post-primary school. Issues have been continually raised about the quality of RTT practice, with Traveller children often assigned "low level tasks" (drawing and colouring) when they are withdrawn from class to the RTT.  It is unclear how a child's educational attainment can be improved by withdrawing them from core curriculum subjects and assigning to them colouring tasks, or indeed how practices of this ilk are to increase student participation in post primary school. Traveller parents have continually reiterated that Traveller children who do not require additional learning supports are being withdrawn to the RTT and that they are being withdrawn from class simply because of their ethnic identity. 

The Chief Inspectors Report 2001-2004 observed “that [Traveller] pupils were frequently assigned low-level tasks that did not challenge and extend them sufficiently. Many pupils did not engage in whole-class activities especially in such areas as History, Geography or Science”.

Other concerns include some teachers having low expectations for Travellers in education and the negative treatment and discrimination of Travellers within the school system.

Traveller Specific Measures in Primary Education

Along with the allocation of Resource Teachers for Travellers, other supports are currently available in Primary Education:

  • Up to Sept 08 where a RTT is enrolled, a school received an enhanced capitation grant for each Traveller child: €284 for children under 12, and €483 for children over 12. The standard capitation grant is €129. Since the October budget 08 this grant have been reduced by 50%
  • The Visiting Teacher for Travellers (VTS) aim to maximize Traveller participation in education, for both Traveller parents and Traveller learners.

Further information on The Department of Education and Science guidelines on Traveller Education in Primary Schools, including the regulations for RTTs, can be accessed at:

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/padmin_traveller.pdf

Other Support Services

Travellers are entitled to access other services and supports in primary education that are not Traveller specific. These include:

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) aims to support the personal, social and educational development of all children through the application of psychological theory and practice in education, having particular regard for children with special educational needs. A parent’s guide to their services “National Education Psychological Service: Working together to make a difference for children: information for parents” can be accessed at:

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/neps_parent_leaflet.pdf?language=EN

Travellers are also entitled to access services such as the Home School Liaison and School Completion Programme.

For more information on the Learning Support Guidelines, they can be downloaded from:
www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/learning_support_guides.pdf


The Chief Inspector’s Report 2001-2004, as quoted above, can be downloaded from:
www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/insp_chief_inspectors_report_01_04.pdf

Intercultural Education

Intercultural education can be defined as education “which respects, celebrates and recognises the normality of diversity in all areas of human life”. The goal of intercultural education is to promote equality and human rights, to challenge unfair discrimination, and to promote the values upon which equality is built. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) published “Intercultural Education in the Primary School: Guidelines for Schools” in 2005. This can be accessed at:
www.ncca.ie/uploadedfiles/Publications/Intercultural.pdf

The Irish National Teacher’s Organisation and the Equality Authority held a joint conference in Limerick, 27th March 2004, called “The Inclusive School” The proceedings can be downloaded at: 
www.into.ie/ROI/Downloads/Publications/Other/filedownload,966,en.pdf





Further and Adult Education


Further and Adult Education

Further and adult education for Travellers is broad and diverse, in that it covers education provision for adult Travellers returning to education and young Travellers who have left formal, mainstream education. Under the Education Welfare Act (2000) all children are required to stay in school until the age of 16, and efforts need to be made to support and encourage Traveller children to access and stay in mainstream education. For those Traveller children who have become disillusioned with mainstream education, there are a number of options available to continue their education and training needs. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) census for 2002, almost two-thirds of Travellers (who indicated the age at which their full-time education ceased) left before the then statutory minimum age of 15 years compared with 15% for the population as a whole. Therefore, adult education provides a second-chance in education for many Travellers.

There is a wide range of further and adult education programmes available, depending on participants’ education and training needs, the details of some of these are listed below.

Traveller Organisations

Traveller organisations and other community development organisations have played an important role as providers of innovative Traveller-specific learning opportunities and in terms of outreach to the community. These initiatives cover a wide area of training and education, and central to many of these initiatives is a community development ethos.



Senior Traveller Training Centres (STTCs)

Senior Traveller Training Centres were established in 1974 to provide basic compensatory education for Travellers between the ages of 15 and 25, although the upper age limit has since been abolished. There are thirty-two centres throughout the country. At the end of 2004 there were 981 trainees enrolled in STTCs, and 81% of the trainees were women. However, for trainees under the age of 18, 25% are male. At the end of 2004, 25% of those enrolled were under 18 years of age. Almost 10% of trainees enrolled in STTCs are not Travellers.
The aim of the centres is to provide Travellers with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to successfully make the transition to work and adult life, and to participate fully in their communities.  The centres are funded by the Department of Education and Science and are operated by local VECs. The centres provide a number of courses, including literacy, numeracy, social / life skills, woodwork, metalwork and home economics, among many others, for Travellers who have left school after primary level or who may not have gone to school at all. The programme is delivered in a 44-week duration over two years and this training period can be extended if necessary to facilitate access to Leaving Cert. qualifications or equivalent. A training allowance is paid to participants, depending on their age and attendance, and childcare is often available.
For more information on the STTCs, visit their website at: www.sttc.ie/welcome.shtml


Youthreach

Youthreach is directed at unemployed young early school leavers aged 15-20. It offers participants the opportunity to identify and pursue viable options within adult life, and provides them with opportunities to acquire certification. It operates on a full-time, year-round basis. As of December 2004, of the 2,752 trainees in Youthreach, 326 were Travellers.
While Youthreach is a national programme, centres are locally managed, and programmes reflect the particular social, economic and cultural environment in which they operate. This local management is a pillar of the programme's design and operation. Although all Centres are alike, no two are the same.

Youthreach programmes are intended to facilitate young people in returning to learning and preparing for employment and adult life. Its general objectives are as follows:

  • Personal and social development and increased self-esteem;
  • second-chance education and introductory level training;
  • the promotion of independence, personal autonomy, active citizenship and a pattern of lifelong learning;
  • integration into further education and training opportunities and the labour market;
  • the promotion of social inclusion.
Youthreach offers a flexible and dynamic programme of integrated general education, vocational training and work experience. Learners set personal and educational goals that increase their self-esteem, skill and knowledge base and employability. Essential course elements include Personal and Social Development, Vocational Skills and Communications Skills.
The Youthreach process involves:

  • personal development and exploration;
  • identification of needs, interests and capacities;
  • setting learning goals
  • sampling general vocational skills;
  • development of specific aptitudes;
  • work experience;
  • literacy and numeracy development.
For more details on Youthreach programmes, visit their website: www.youthreach.ie


FÁS

FÁS is Ireland's national training and employment authority which aims to promote a more competitive and inclusive knowledge-based economy, by enhancing the skills and capabilities of individuals and enterprises. Its functions include:

  • training and re-training;
  • designated apprenticeships;
  • recruitment service;
  • employment schemes;
  • placement and guidance services;
  • assistance to community groups ;
  • advice for people returning to Ireland and those seeking employment elsewhere in the EU

FÁS Training and Employment Authority is divided into 8 regions comprising 20 Training Centres and 62 Employment Offices. In 2002 about 90,500 unemployed job-seekers or other individuals completed FÁS programmes, and, at the end of the year, 48,300 persons were on FÁS programmes. In 2004 there were just over 400 Travellers registered with FÁS employment services. In addition there are 300 Travellers on LTIs, 120 on CTCs and 83 participated in CE. The FÁS website has more details of the programmes they offer, and can be accessed at: www.fas.ie


Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is a range of courses designed to meet the education needs of unemployed people. It aims to give people who are unemployed the education and training opportunities which will develop their employability; to prepare people to get paid employment or to further opportunities leading to paid employment. VTOS is available for people who are 21 years or older and have been getting unemployment payments or signing for credits at least six months. There are also a limited number of places available to recipients of the Lone Parent Disability Allowances, and to dependent spouses of all categories of people eligible to join VTOS.

Courses are free, and those that are enrolled who are receiving an unemployment payment get a training allowance equivalent to the maximum standard rate of unemployment benefit. If a trainee is receiving One-Parent Family payment or Disability allowances, trainees receive a payment equivalent to the maximum rate of current social welfare payments. Payments continue in the normal way from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. Travel (for distances over 3 miles) and meal allowances are provided. Books and materials are free of charge and childcare support may also available. 

For more information on VTOS, visit their website at:
www.vtos.ie/main/index.php

For a list of VTOS centres in Ireland:
www.vtos.ie/main/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2


Adult Educational Guidance Initiative (AEGI)

The Adult Educational Guidance Initiative consists of twenty-four guidance projects throughout the country with the aim of providing a quality adult educational guidance service to participants in VTOS, literacy and other adult and community education programmes nationwide. The main focus of the AEGI is to connect adults with learning. The formation of the AEGI as an adult guidance and counseling service for adults came from the White Paper - Learning for Life (2000), which highlighted the need for such a support service.
A list of current AEGI projects can be accessed at: www.ncge.ie/adult_details.htm
For more information about AEGI, contact the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) at 01- 8690715 or email info@ncge.ie

The Department of Education and Science’s approach to Adult and Further Education are underpinned by two publications. They can be accessed in full below.

Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/fe_adulted_wp.pdf

Green Paper: Adult Education in an Era of Learning

www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/pc_fe_adulted_gp_1998.pdf

Qualifications given in further and adult education are awarded by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC). Their website is www.fetac.ie

FETAC awards are based on the framework of national education and training awards outlined by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland. Their website is: www.nqai.ie/en


Current Concerns in Further and Adult Education

Travellers and Traveller organisations have two key concerns regarding further and adult education, namely:

  • that training allowances in further education can have the unintended consequence of creating an incentive for some young Travellers to leave mainstream education
  • the outcomes (qualifications and employment) achieved by Travellers who participate in further and adult education

Both concerns were raised in the Consultation with Traveller Parents and Learners (see ITM Publications section for full document). While there is a need to provide second-chance education for those when the education system has failed them, it should not have the (unintended) consequence of creating an incentive for early-school leaving. Mainstream education provision must adopt flexibility for those who feel disenchanted with education, such as the provision of Leaving Cert Applied and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme. Some training programmes are sought as they offer peer and family support and a space to confidently express one’s culture and identity. While this is very positive to have this setting, it puts an onus on mainstream education provision to accommodate diversity in post-primary education so that young Travellers can confidently express their culture and identity, rather than having to leave mainstream education to do so. The payment of allowances should not act as an enticement for young Travellers to leave mainstream education.

Similarly, Travellers and Traveller organisations have raised concerns about the poor outcomes or level of progression for Travellers attending further and adult education and training. Real outcomes need to be achieved for Travellers in further and adult education: qualifications, progression into further training and education and accessing employment.




Higher or Third Level Education


Higher or Third Level Education

In assessing Traveller participation in higher education, one of the difficulties is that there is no system in place to collect hard data. However, it is clear that, to date, few Travellers have participated in third level education. Estimates suggest that less than 20 were at third level in 2002. In September it was estimated that there were 28 Travellers enrolled in third level.  Most Travellers who participate do so under the scheme for mature students, frequently with support from their local Traveller organisation.
 
The Higher Education Authority, the governing body of Higher Education, has published a document that deals with social exclusion and barriers to access for marginalized groups who historically have had little access to Higher Education, including Travellers. It is titled “Achieving Equity of Access to Higher Education in Ireland” and can be accessed at:
www.hea.ie/uploads/pdf/AccessActionPlan.pdf

Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, has published a study of access and provision for Travellers accessing third level education in Ireland. It is titled “Achieving equity of access to higher education in Ireland: the case of Travellers”. A PDF of this document can be downloaded here.
PDF of “Achieving equity of access to higher education” to go here.




Cuts to Traveller Education 2011


Cuts to Traveller Education 2011

Position Paper  April 2011


The Irish Traveller Movement position in context

The Irish Traveller Movement firmly believes that education is a cornerstone to equality, vital for Traveller’s integration and that an intercultural approach to educating Travellers within the Irish Education system which respects, recognises, celebrates and caters for diversity, is imperative.  We are committed to working closely in partnership with all key stakeholders ensuring the Intercultural Education Strategy 2010- 2015 is implemented for the best interest of Travellers inclusive and educational needs.


Position_Paper_Traveller_Education_Cuts_April_2011.pdf