The case of Paddy Flynn is yet another example of a Traveller child being left behind by the education system in Ireland. Only 13% of Travellers complete formal education in comparison with 92% of the general population. 7 out of 10 Traveller children live in families where their mother has no formal education or primary level education only. This ongoing cycle of educational disadvantage has a devastating impact on their future health, well-being and employment.
‘What we are seeing today are the consequences of the brutal cuts made by the government in budget 2011 when Traveller specific education supports were cut by 86.6%. Nothing was put in place by the Department of Education and Skills to monitor the impact of these cuts and as a result countless Traveller children have been left behind.’ Martin Collins, Co-Director Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.
Concerns about the impact of these cuts have been raised by Traveller organisations and have been reiterated by both principals and teachers. A review of the school completion programme undertaken by the ESRI in 2015 noted principals concerns about the declining attendance, transfer and retention rates of Traveller pupils following the removal of the Visiting Teachers for Travellers Service.
‘Pavee Point considers it imperative that Traveller children and their families receive targeted supports to ensure that they can participate in the mainstream education system on a par with their settled peers. This is the only way that this cycle of educational disadvantage can be broken once and for all.’ Martin Collins, Co-Director Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.
In January of this year the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that it was ‘deeply concerned’ about structural discrimination against Traveller and Roma children in accessing education and urged the state to undertake concrete and comprehensive measures to address this disadvantage.
For more information:
Hilary Harmon, Education Advocacy Coordinator
Tel: 087 6607549