Fianna Fáil Galway East TD Michael Kitt has said he is very disappointed by a lack of commitment by the Minister for Education to provide funding for the yellow flag programme promoting diversity, equality and interculturalism.
The yellow flag programme, developed by the Irish Traveller Movement, is based on the same principle as the green flag environmental education programme.
Deputy Kitt has raised the issue in the Dáil with Minister Ruairí Quinn.
He commented, “There is a great need for diversity among teachers and for additional anti-racism training at the colleges of education. One of the vehicles we can use to develop this area is the teaching practice programme which should send a message of diversity in the education system. Gaelscoil Riabhach in Loughrea, County Galway, has a yellow flag. Nationally, 26 schools are working on the green flag scheme and 30 have been awarded it, including Gaelscoil Riabhach. Thirteen schools are working towards the yellow flag, including St. Patrick’s boys’ national school in Tuam, County Galway and I hope that we can make more progress.
“I am worried that the Children’s Rights Alliance has awarded the Government an ‘E’ grade for its unsatisfactory performance on issues affecting Traveller children. Likewise, any cutbacks to education should not affect Traveller children in the education system because it would only reinforce and condemn another generation of young Traveller children to exclusion and marginalisation.”
“The yellow flag programme is dependent on philanthropic funding at the moment. It is not funded by the Department of Education. I welcome the fact that the Irish Traveller Movement was consulted on the development of the anti-bullying action plan launched recently. There is a particular concern about identity-based bullying and I hope progress can be made in tackling this under the plan. The yellow flag programme is a great addition to the schools is it active in and I think the Department of Education should build on this work with funding support to roll it out to more schools, alongside the anti-bullying strategy.
“I am disappointed that Minister Quinn has simply said the resources are not available for this. The green flag programme to promote awareness of the environment in schools has been hugely successful with students. Ensuring diversity and inclusion in schools should be a priority for government and I believe funding could be set aside to support and grow the yellow flag programme. The traveller movement, schools and students are all showing leadership on this issue and they need to be supported.”