Racism in Irish schools

ALL SCHOOLS should have an anti-racism policy, the TUI has said after a survey showed that one in four teachers was aware of racist incidents in schools in the past month.According to TUI deputy general secretary Annette Dolan, more than half of TUI members surveyed for the report said their school or college had an anti-racism policy.But this needed to be increased to ensure all schools were covered. The incidents reported ranged from verbal abuse and bullying up to assault against minority ethnic students, she said. Incidents of racism appear to be more frequent at second level than third level with some 41 per cent of TUI members from community and comprehensive schools and 38 per cent of those teaching in VEC schools saying they were aware of a racist incident in the previous month.The survey on Racism, Interculturalism and Resources for Minority Ethnic Students was commissioned by the TUI Equality Council and carried out by independent market research agency, Behaviour Attitudes last month.The survey involved some 334 TUI members from community and comprehensive schools, VEC schools and colleges, standalone further education colleges and institutes of technology being questioned on issues affecting minority ethnic students.According to the 2006 Census, 48,000 minority ethnic students attend Irish schools and the TUI survey found that half of all respondents taught between one and 10 minority ethnic students while a further third taught more than 10 minority ethnic students.Questioned about the number of teachers available to teach English as a second language, 39 per cent said the numbers were inadequate while another 39 per cent were of the view that the numbers of such teachers available were “fairly adequate.” Broadly similar results were found when teachers were questioned about the number of English language support teachers available.Ms Dolan said it was important to note the survey was carried out pre-Budget and that the disimprovement in the level of English language support teachers will not take place until next September when the full impact of the latest cutbacks will be felt.

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