Migrant strategy aims to make integration 'the norm' in classrooms


TEACHERS SHOULD create a more “intercultural learning environment” in classrooms and focus more on developing pupils’ English language skills during regular lessons.

These are two key proposals in a new Government five-year migrant education strategy, which aims to make “inclusion and integration the norm” and combat racism in schools.

No new funding is being allocated to deliver the strategy, which has been developed to respond to a significant rise in the number of migrants in the school system. New figures in the Intercultural Education Strategy 2010-15 show there was an 87 per cent increase in the number of immigrant children in the school system between 2002 and 2006.

In the 2009/10 academic year there were 28,422 migrant children attending second-level schools, 9 per cent of the school population. At primary level, there are 45,700 immigrant pupils out of a total student population of 476,000. British, Polish and Nigerians are the three biggest migrant groups at second-level schools.

The strategy notes some immigrants are leaving Ireland due to the recession but concludes that the State’s schools will remain multicultural. The plan, launched by Minister for Integration Mary White today, proposes to:

  • create an intercultural learning environment and accommodate cultural diversity in the classroom;
  • increase teachers’ awareness that they also play a key role in developing and enhancing the language competence of learners;
  • issue guidelines on best practice for the teaching and learning of the language of instruction as an additional language;
  • include racism, stereotyping, discrimination and bias as unacceptable behaviour in all learning environments;
  • engage with migrant parents and encourage them to be involved in their children’s education;
  • reassess teacher-training programmes to include more intercultural aspects;
  • develop and approve a post graduate qualification in English as an additional language.