School Absenteeism Case Highlights Education as a Human Right

This week’s decision by Judge Mary Larkin to jail 10 Traveller parents for failing to send their children to school highlights the importance of protecting education as a human right.

Pavee Point is committed to the attainment of human rights for all Traveller and Roma children. All children have the right to an education and the Irish State has an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil every child’s right to education

Whilst the State needs to address the numerous barriers faced by Traveller children to accessing and succeeding in education, Traveller parents also have a responsibility to ensure that their children participate in the formal education system.

As an organisation our priority is to ensure that all Traveller children are included and supported in the education system. This requires working with both the Traveller community and education stakeholders.

In 2010, the All Ireland Traveller Health Study found that the majority of Traveller parents considered education very important.

The issue of poor educational outcomes for Travellers and Roma has long been recognised and yet there remain stark inequalities between Traveller and Roma children and the general population in relation to education.

Only 13% of Traveller children complete secondary education in comparison with 92% of the general population[1]. According to the 2011 Census, 55% of Travellers have left school by the age of 15.

Following budget 2011, Traveller specific education supports were cut by 86.6%. This resulted in the dismantling of the Visiting Teachers for Travellers Service and the Resource Teacher for Travellers Service.

Whilst it had long been accepted that segregated Traveller education should be brought to an end, it was clear that Travellers required specific targeted additional support for them to participate in mainstream education on equal terms with the rest of the settled community.

Pavee Point will be part of the NGO delegation raising these concerns with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the official state hearing in Geneva on Thursday the 14th of January 2016.

See here for report of court case.

[1] Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) , Growing Up in Ireland Study 2012, Department of Children and Youth Affairs.