Resource Book Launched for Schools to Support Integration

The SICAP Programme, in partnership with Carlow Integration Forum, Carlow College and VISUAL launched a Workbook on Wednesday 24th October for schools which contained stories from people who have made Carlow their home over the last 15 years. These stories along with explanations and activities around the themes of migration, conflict, culture and ethnicity make up this beautiful publication which was welcomed by Primary schools in Carlow as a tremendous resource.

Children spend a vast amount of their young and formative years in in school, and it is clear that schools have a significant impact on children, beyond just academic skills, extending to their values, their world-view and their way of relating to others. Like the rest of Irish society, schools have witness significant change in the last 20 years  – from a traditional white,  predominantly Catholic homogenous set of beliefs and methods to places which can witness up to 23 or 24 different cultures and backgrounds in the one building, sometimes in the one class. Census 2016 figures show that one in eight of the population  are from non-Irish born backgrounds, having come here from almost 200 countries.

Because of this, the school environment is a crucial one in the creation of an open and tolerant multi-cultural Carlow. Indeed, UNESCO stated that ‘regular schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all”. However, schools are in need of serious support in this area, as they have all too frequently been left to respond to these rapid changes with a mixture of adaptability, good humour, curiosity, decency  and resilience without the proper institutional supports, such as in the area of English language support.

Like other bodies who receive public funding the Carlow SICAP Programme is aware of its positive duty and responsibility under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, to promote equality of opportunity, ensure that all individuals are afforded the opportunity to fulfill their potential, and also to challenge all forms of discrimination. This workbook is way of responding to this duty and provide support to schools in this important area. It reflects an approach based on shared human rights and an understanding that different cultures bring a richness to the county, are simply part of who we are now and wishes to change the narrative from a problem focused one to one that celebrated the presents of different ideas and beliefs and customs in our county.

Karl Duffy,  Social Inclusion Manager with Carlow County Development Partnership said at the launch : “This workbook is one support which has been developed in a collaborative approach between ourselves, Carlow College, VISUAL and the Integration Forum. It is a practical way for young students to reflect on questions which are present in today’s world and have no intention of going away – such as citizenship, migration, conflict and diversity. We are extremely proud of our collaborations with Carlow College and with VISUAL . This workbook reflects the added energy which comes when the arts – in this case storytelling – are used in community development processes and when the work is linked to an academic reflection. We are also very happy to be closely associated with the Integration Forum over the years and look forward to the development of a new Migrant Integration Strategy and representative shape for new communities in a process which is currently ongoing”

The Workbook is being piloted in two schools, Carlow Educate Together and Gaelscoil Ceatharlach, before being rolled out to other schools next year.

For more information please contact us at 059-9720733