Cork activist: 'Traveller-only classes are a contributory factor to racism in schooling system’

“We are now seeing this in Cork schools where children are still being segregated today. This is being addressed in our school system but more needs to be done to bring students together.”
Cork activist: 'Traveller-only classes are a contributory factor to racism in schooling system’

Traveller TJ Hogan, who is a member of the Right to Change political party, said that he has heard from both parents and educators from a number of schools about how Travellers are being segregated and given bespoke lesson plans as part of a well-meaning approach to their educational development. Pic: Larry Cummins

A CORK activist has spoken out against the segregation of Traveller children in some schools after hearing from parents and educators about the issue.

Traveller TJ Hogan, who is a member of the Right to Change political party, said that he has heard from both parents and educators from a number of schools about how Travellers are being segregated and given bespoke lesson plans as part of a well-meaning approach to their educational development.

Nonetheless, Mr Hogan stressed that this is retrograde to how Traveller children should be supported and encouraged to thrive.

Mr Hogan, who has received accolades for his educational achievements in the past, warned that segregation is one of the main factors contributing to racism in the education system. He expressed concern that many Traveller students are still operating on reduced timetables, with some seeing their school day shortened by a number of hours.

“We are now seeing this in Cork schools where children are still being segregated today. This is being addressed in our school system but more needs to be done to bring students together.”

MENTAL HEALTH

The Farranree man highlighted the way this can impact the mental health of a child contributing to issues in later life.

“When you are seen to be different this can have a major impact. There are so many major social events that take place in school. You have your communions. You have your confirmations and you have your hurling and football finals. If you are seen to be different by other children then that’s when the racism starts.

Cork activist TJ Hogan.
Cork activist TJ Hogan.

“We need to start a conversation on a collective level to let people know that Traveller- only classes are still happening. Unfortunately, this is one of the contributory factors of racism inside the schooling system.”

He reiterated the dangers of isolating children: “By dividing Travellers, whether that’s purposely or by default, removing Travellers from a class because it’s felt they need extra help or support — is actually isolating them.

'WHY AM I DIFFERENT?'

“It leads to children asking themselves ‘why am I different?’. The thing to remember is that kids will be kids. Many of those responsible for the bullying don’t understand the impact they are having which is why we need to start conversations around racism as early as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education addressed the issue of reduced timetables.

“The Department provided guidelines to schools on Reduced School Days in September 2021 to come into effect from 1st January 1, 2022. The guidelines for the use of Reduced School Days in Schools can be found online at https://eclv.ie/mk5. Where parents have concerns about the use of Reduced School Days for their child they can contact Tusla Education Support Service for advice.”

To find out about supports available within the Traveller community visit www.tvgcork.ie.

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