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‘When you actually talk to them …’
Recognising and respecting cultural and religious diversity in Irish schools
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Large scale and rapid immigration to Ireland has significantly changed the face of the country. Recent Census figures show that, despite the economic recession, migration to Ireland is continuing, albeit at a slower pace. In addition, contrary to popular belief, many migrants have decided to make Ireland their home and have applied for citizenship. Cultural and religious diversity has become a lived reality in the country. Schools have an important part to play in educating young people how to develop strategies for living in a more diverse society, in accepting and respecting difference. This chapter reports on data gathered for two research projects dealing with cultural and religious diversity in the Irish education system. It discusses measures Irish primary and second level schools have put in place to cater for diversity in the student body and explores to what extent Irish and migrant students have developed a better understanding of each other’s social worlds – leading to an acceptance of difference and changing stereotypes.

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