Thursday, 1 July 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
309. Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider allocating funding for the establishment of a much needed early start unit for Travellers at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29174/10]
Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Mary Coughlan): The provision of an Early Start pre-school for Traveller children would be contrary to the recommendations set out in the 2006 Traveller Education Strategy. This strategy built on earlier reports, including the 1995 Task Force on the Travelling Community which specifically recommended the end of segregated provision at all levels of the Education system. This includes the pre-school sector.
With the introduction in January 2010 of universal pre-school provision (ECCE scheme) for all children, all children, whether from minority or majority groups are entitled to a free pre-school year of appropriate programme-based activities in the year before they start primary school. There are sufficient places available for pre-school children within community and private pre-schools. Adding a segregated Early Start unit for Traveller children would be contrary to principles of inclusion and against the recommendations of an agreed strategy.
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