First Traveller graduates from innovative early education programme

Photo: Here 4 year old John Collins and 4 year old Cassie Marie McDonagh with L to R, Professor Jimmy Hill Vice President National College of Ireland, Geraldine McDonnell Home Visitor Pavee Point, Charlene Collins and Ann McDonnell Home Visitor Pavee Point. Photo by Derek Speirs

Seven Traveller children graduated from the Parent Child Home Programme (PCHP) today in the National College of Ireland.  These are the first Traveller children to graduate from the innovative two year literacy programme which was established by Pavee Point in the Finglas area in 2014. The programme started with seven Traveller families and has doubled in size each year.

‘We have really noticed how much Hughie has come on. We did have books before but he just used to fly through them and not really look at them. He wasn’t interested. But since we started the programme he wants us to read through each page and points at the words every night. You can really see the difference in him. We have started taking him and his sister to the library every week now.’  Michael Collins, father of Hughie Collins who graduated from the programme today.

PCHP is an early education intervention which aims to increase children’s literacy levels and encourage parental involvement in education from a young age. Through participating in the programme, Traveller children develop the necessary literacy skills to begin preschool at a comparable level to their settled peers.

‘Travellers continue to experience significant educational disadvantage.  Only 13% of our community complete secondary education in comparison with 92% of the general population. This is a truly shocking statistic. This programme gives Traveller children the support and skills they need to succeed in school.  It is essential that targeted interventions like this are implemented if we are going to improve the educational outcomes of Traveller children.’ Martin Collins, Co-Director Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.

The trained Home Visitors that work on the programme and visit participating families each week are members of the Traveller community. This has been essential to the success of the programme and in reinforcing the importance of positive role models and education in the wider Traveller community.

The graduation ceremony took place today in the National College of Ireland today. More than 20 children from Parent Child Home Programmes around Dublin were presented with their graduation certificates by Professor Jimmy Hill, Vice President of the National College of Ireland.

Pavee Point is currently running this programme in collaboration with the Early Learning initiative in the National College of Ireland.