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Traveller education

The Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn, outlined to Mary-Lou McDonald (SF, Dublin C) how he planned out address the fact that only 10% of Travellers completed post-primary education (Dail Eireann, Debates, 8th June 2011, 731-2).  He explained that there had been steady progress in Travellers entering and completing education, with 11,300 enrolled in September 2009, with the numbers sitting the junior and leaving certificate doubling. Even where there was a fall-off, many Travellers went into alternate educational provision, with 800 Travellers in the 6,000 places in Youthreach.  Under the National recovery plan, 2011-2014, resource teaching posts for Travellers will be withdrawn from August, but alleviation measures were being provided.  Under the National recovery plan, 2011-2014, the visiting teachers services would be discontinued from September.

Later, the minister told Catherine Byrne (FG, Dublin SC) that the withdrawal of the scheme of resource teachers would mean the loss of 709 posts, to be offset by 119 alleviation posts (Dail Eireann, Debates, 8th June 2011, 752).  He stressed that the underlying principle of the Traveller education strategy was that provision should be based on the needs of individual Travellers, rather than on Traveller identity.   Later, he explained that the government had taken the decision to provide educational teaching supports to Traveller students on the same basis as other students in schools (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th June 2011, 404).

Asked by Charles Flanagan (FG, Laois Offaly) about measures to improve Traveller participation in the workforce, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton told the Dail that Travellers were a priority group for the Local Employment Service, FAS Employment Services (289 Travellers registered in 2009) and Community Employment (75 Travellers in 2010).  The FAS special initiative for Travellers was designed to provide additional assistance to adult Travellers and supported 13 projects in the County Development Boards in Meath, Monaghan, Waterford, Wicklow, Tipperary, Laois, Galway, Donegal, Sligo, Cork, Clare and Dublin.  Of the 602 Travellers engaged in the programme, 38 secured employment, 9 enterprises were established and 66 Travellers underwent training (Dail Eireann, Debates, 15th June 2011, 442-3).

Asked about the Traveller accommodation programme, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Willie Penrose told Paschal Donohue (FG, Dublin C) that the current round of Traveller accommodation programmes ran to 2013, but local authorities had been asked to carry out a review of their programmes by end 2011 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 16th June 2011, 752).