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Project aims to tackle exclusion of Travellers


28/04/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Traveller children must be given the same educational opportunities as their settled peers, the education minister has said.

Caitriona Ruane was speaking after a meeting at the Traveller Education Policy Project in Belfast.

Her meeting coincided with the launch of a media initiative and interactive educational outreach project aimed at tackling the exclusion of Traveller children in playgroups, nurseries and schools.

Traveller children are more likely to drop out of secondary school at 14 because of difficulties mixing with pupils from settled backgrounds.

While many young Travellers are educated at primary level in a Traveller-specific setting, many struggle with the transition to mainstream secondary education.

The new media initiative developed by the Early Years organisation combines a series of cartoon advertisements with a preschool programme to build a better understanding among children of physical, racial and cultural differences.

The cartoons are set in a play park and feature characters with which young children can easily identify.

The messages in the cartoons are reinforced in preschools through the use of resources and activities that prompt children to talk about their feelings and attitudes to the issues explored in the cartoons.

"Children from the Travelling community for far too long have not had the same educational opportunities and the same educational provision as those from the settled community," Ms Ruane said.



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