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Traveller education
Policy and practice in Northern Ireland
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Social exclusion, discrimination and widespread disadvantage are common to the Traveller community. The issue of social exclusion affects all areas of Irish Travellers’ lives, including education. The difficulties facing Travellers with regard to formal education were recognised by the European Parliament through two resolutions in 1989, which stated that Gypsy Travellers and Occupational Travellers (including bargees, circus workers and fairground workers) are the most socially excluded from school education and with the highest levels of illiteracy. In addition issues of attendance and bullying also contribute to lack of attainment and educational progress. This chapter reports on a study in Northern Ireland which assessed the adequacy and effectiveness of primary level education from the perspective of Traveller children and parents, as well as related voluntary and statutory sector organisations. The findings are discussed in relation to the literature on toleration and how this concept illuminates the experiences of Traveller children. The chapter also considers the policy context for Traveller educational provision in Northern Ireland.

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