21 March 2011
Parish Priest of the Travelling People says Traveller children could be affected most by education cuts
A Dublin priest has said the Department of Education must ensure that planned cuts to resource teachers don’t discriminate against Traveller children.
Fr Derek Farrell, parish priest of the Parish of the Travelling People in Dublin said the cuts to resource and visiting teachers announced last November are very likely to have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Traveller children.
Of the 1200 resource posts that are due to be cut by June of this year, almost 800 are in Traveller Education at primary and post primary level. “State investment in Traveller education, particularly through the Traveller Resource and Visiting Teachers, has been increasingly effective, but still needs to be consolidated”, said Fr Farrell. “These cuts to crucial supports are coming at least a generation too soon. The timing and extent is unwise, and there is clearly an issue of fairness and justice when of the 1200 job cuts in education, 773 of these are in Traveller education.”
Speaking on his parishioners’ behalf, Fr. Farrell said they were contacting new Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald seeking a postponement for review of this part of the National Recovery Plan, which they said was grossly disproportionate.
Fr Farrell said it was staggering that the Department had targeted two thirds of the cuts in resource teaching posts at Travellers. He added “What we are particularly talking about are those children whose parents for historical, social, cultural, and literacy reasons still may not be able to give them the help they need at home with reading, homework, etc., children who desperately need extra support in school to realise their full potential. We’re also talking about young people who may be the first generation in their family to go to secondary school, and who may well drop out of school if they are not supported, with all the risks dropping out can bring to them and the wider community.”
The Parish of the Travelling People, Crosscare, and teachers working with Traveller children, echoing the grave concerns of the main Traveller organisations, have been raising this issue where they can, with little impact in recent weeks. The group said there were obvious consequences for almost 12,000 Traveller children and their families and the effect of these cuts will be clearly seen. The great progress in inclusion and participation particularly over the past 10 years, very evident in young Travellers’ steadily increasing rates of enrolment and achievement in post-primary school, is in serious danger of being undone. The group has identified these cuts as a recipe for regression within the Traveller community, and a serious blow to an inclusive education system.
- Fr Derek Farrell will be in attendance at today’s launch of the DVD “Pavee Parents: Post Primary Concerns” by US Civil Rights Campaigner, Rev Jesse Jackson in the Pavee Point Travellers Centre at 11.30am. This launch is taking place as part of events which mark today’s International Day against Racism.
- The Parish of the Travelling People, established in the Archdiocese of Dublin is the only one of its kind in Europe with specific pastoral responsibility for Travellers.
- The Parish has been working with local teachers, along with and the Crosscare Traveller Inclusion Programme, to highlight the issue of the cuts in Resource and Visiting Teachers for Travellers.
- The Department of Education contribution to the National Recovery Plan last November outlined “Withdrawal of Resource Teachers for Travellers posts at primary level and of equivalent teaching hours for Travellers at post-primary level. “
Further information: Archdiocese of Dublin Communications office 01 8360723