Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Racism and Homophobia in Schools

Article 42 of the Irish Constitution provides a right to free primary education which is to be provided for by the State. There are various difficulties with the satisfaction and sufficiency of this right as it stands, particularly in relation to children with particular educational needs (for more see Educational Rights in Irish Law by CCJHR member Dr. Conor O’Mahony). However, protection of children within the school environment is also vital to ensure that children benefit to the extent possible from the educational program within the school. Various factors can interfere with this, but today two pieces of research were released suggesting particular difficulties in this relation.

The first is a policy document of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland expressing its disappointment and concern at the Department of Education’s lack of action to implement the National Action Plan against Racism in Schools (RTE). The second is a document emanating from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the UK, which documents the very high incidence of homophobia in schools (Guardian). Although this research concerns UK education, it seems likely that the same conclusions could be reached in relation to Irish education.