Traveller Education Bill Passes Seanad

The Traveller History and Culture in Education Bill passed its final stage in Seanad Eireann and Education Minister Joe McHugh, TD will now bring the Bill forward to Dáil Eireann.

“This is really important for equality in our society, “ said Pavee Point Co Director, Martin Collins, “Both Traveller students and students from the majority population in school need to hear about the contributions Travellers have made to Irish society overall.

“Bringing Traveller Culture and History into the curriculum will mean there is a clear syllabus with learning tools to support it and will send out a clear message that diversity is valued in our education system.”

Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, TD

Education Minister Joe McHugh, TD welcomed the Bill and gave a personal commitment to move on this issue while also introducing some amendments. He acknowledged the damage done in relation to racism and discrimination towards Travellers.

“We are trying to repair much of that damage and I am seeking out the best possible vehicle to do so. I again give my word that there will be momentum in bringing things forward.
“I do not want to see another generation of young Travellers having to go through what previous generations did.”

Senator Collette Kelleher, who proposed the Bill, said “As a people we are ignorant of Traveller history. Such ignorance is the context in which discrimination is a daily reality for the Traveller community.”

Senator Kelleher argued that Traveller Culture and History needs to be part of the curriculum and for it to be actively taught.
“In 2001 Department for Education Guidelines on Traveller Education in Second Level Schools state that ‘schools have to be proactive an acknowledging and validating Traveller ways of living,” said Senator Kelleher who pointed out this had not happened.

“The Department of Education and Skills and the NCCA’s Intercultural Guidelines of 2005 are positive but were also ignored,” she added.

“The Department’s approach of seeking, rather than providing for, the inclusion of Traveller culture and history in the curriculum taught by recognised schools in the State simply has not worked.

“It has not educated the general population about Traveller culture and history. There has been an invisibility about Traveller culture and history in our schools. Traveller children have not been validated in our education system.” The Seanad accepted Min McHugh’s amendments and the amended Bill will now go forward to the Dáil where TDs will vote on it.

Read our Letter to Senators

Full Seanad Debate here.