Rights, segregation and discrimination
in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland
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Chapter 6 discusses current structural trends in the education system from the perspective of inclusion, civic and social equality, looking at the diversification of school types and the involvement of private interests and their consequences in terms of school segregation, continuing discrimination and the issue of democratic legitimacy in the whole system. Until now the Irish State has worked to preserve legal forms of discrimination through exemptions to equality legislation, ultimately subordinating the rights of all individual members of the school community to those of particular groups (mainly religious bodies) acting as private patrons, with the exception of the Education and Training Boards. The human rights of children, including the right to freedom of conscience, have been ignored by the Irish State, despite calls from various United Nations Committees and from local groups to eliminate all discrimination in admission policies and within schools. Competing understandings of the notion of community (cultural/religious vs local) along with the market-based idea of parental choice, have contributed to maintaining school segregation along religious, social and even indirectly ‘racial’ lines, going against the idea of a local common school for all children upheld notably by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.

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