A major conference on Intercultural Education took place in Dublin on 1 October. The conference marked the first phase in the development of a National Intercultural Education Strategy and was a key event of European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
Opening the conference Minister for Education, Batt O’ Keeffe T.D said:
“Within a relatively short space of time, Ireland has become a richly diverse society, with a new mix of languages, cultures and perspectives. It is important to acknowledge the very positive contribution that immigrants are making to our society and also our economy. The changes we have experienced in society generally over the last number of years provide the backdrop for the challenges now facing the education system in providing solutions for an increasing variety of needs. It is important to emphasise that migrant children in primary and post-primary education are entitled to the same education as Irish children and to the same additional supports if they comply with specific criteria.”
The Minister for Integration, Conor Lenihan T.D outlined some of the principles which would be key in the development of an Intercultural Education Strategy. These included the "mainstreaming of education provision through inclusive practices by and for all involved in the education of both migrant and host community at national and at local level, a focus on knowledge of English (and Irish) for all residents, partnership and engagement through dialogue with the wider education community, and a focus on the fact that rights and responsibilities, high aspirations and high expectations should be the same for all students."
A number of national and international research findings were presented at the conference including research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute on “The Integration of newcomer students in primary and second level schools,” and the thematic review by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Migrant Education which also includes studies of Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. A Green Paper recently published by the European Commission on” Migration and Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities for EU education systems” was also presented. The Department of Education and Science Inspectorate provided an introduction to an evaluation that has commenced in to the provision of English as an Additional Language in primary and post primary schools.
The conference was organised by the Department of Education and Science, the Office for Integration and the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI). The conference was funded by the National Action Plan Against Racism.
A series of consultations will take place over the next few months with key stakeholders in the education sector on the development of the strategy. Details of these consultations will be available on the NCCRI website shortly.
Download Speeches and Presentations Here:
Speech by Minister for Education and Science
Speech by Minister for Integration
National Qualifications Authority Presentation
EU Green Paper Migration and Mobility
OECD Thematic Review