‘Alarming’ level of racism in schools

MORE than a quarter of teachers in post-primary, higher and further education have said they were aware of racist incidents over a one-month period, a pioneering Teacher’s Union of Ireland survey has found.

The results from an independent survey, commissioned by the TUI, revealed an “alarming” level of racism, which is a real cause for concern, deputy general secretary of the TUI Annette Dolan has said.

When analysed on a sectoral basis, the survey revealed 41% of respondents from comprehensive and community schools, and 38% of those from VEC schools, were aware of racist incidents in a one-month period.

The TUI presented the results of the report, undertaken in March, to its annual congress in Cork yesterday, as it drew to a close.

According to Ms Dolan, lack of training for teachers to deal with intercultural issues, and lack of access to translation services seriously impedes teaching.

It is hoped its findings will spur on the Department of Education to deal with issues arising from the increasing numbers of minority ethnic students, and offer more training to teachers to cope with the changes.

Other findings from the survey included:

* 33% of all respondents were teaching more than 10 ethnic minority students and only 14% did not teach any.

* 74% of respondents agreed that the presence of minority ethnic students increased teacher workload.

* 45% of teachers stated that the current level of resources in relation to minority students was “not at all adequate”.

* 74% stated their school did not have access to external interpretation services for parents of minority ethnic students.

* 30% of schools/colleges did not have a specific formal procedure that is followed if a racist incident occurs.

One of the TUI Equality Council’s recommendations, as set out in its policy document, is that general information be available to migrants in their mother tongue on arrival in Ireland.

This information would explain the structure of the education system from primary to second level, and further education to third level.

It also recommends that schools and colleges should have access to translation, interpretation and cultural mediation services, where such services are required.

And in relation to racism, it states every school should have a policy on anti-racism, that all racist incidents be thoroughly investigated and procedures to deal with such incidents be clearly outlined.


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