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INTO president says Ireland is well placed to help refugees 17/04/17

INTO President says Ireland is well placed to help refugees

Monday, 17 April 2017

Press Release

Irish National Teachers Organisation

INTO Congress 2017

Ireland is well placed to offer settling refugees a warm welcome, the INTO president Rosena Jordan told the union’s Annual Congress in Belfast today. She said improving communication and attention to detail were important but resource provision was essential.

“Schools need additional help to be able to give extra attention to young refugees such as access to intensive language learning and trauma counselling, and in-service programmes are necessary to equip teachers to meet young refugees’ educational needs,” said Ms Jordan. “Schools ability to cope will be stretched beyond reasonable limits by resource reductions. The government is duty-bound to think very carefully before slimming down ways in which they support young people.”

Ms Jordan told delegates that, recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that there are around 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world, with around a third of that number considered refugees.

An astonishing 51% of refugees under the UNHCR mandate are children: 6 million are of school age, many separated from their parents or travelling alone.

Once displaced, a refugee child has little prospect of returning home before adulthood, which means that their only access to education is in their host country. Of the 6 million children under the UNHCR mandate about 3.7 million have no school.

Blinkered approaches from some right-wing populist politicians are risky, stirring up resentment and storing up problems. The imperative to support security, democracy and sustainable development means that governments, civil society and the trade union movement must stand together to respect the rights of all people.

Through Education International (the world’s largest federation of teaching unions) the INTO will continue to work with refugees, teacher union leaders, refugee teachers, education ministers and international experts to promote ongoing international dialogue.

She said support of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development must be a cornerstone for all trade union work in the coming years. The INTO will be fully involved in lobbying Government and promoting the Global Goals throughout the union.

She said she was particularly proud of the work the INTO has done in the area of global solidarity over the last year which included volunteering, campaigning and learning. She said this work was recognised by President Michael D. Higgins at the Mansion House last year when launching the Global Citizenship Schools, a programme which is now in 50 schools so far.