School group calls for direct provision system to be replaced

Students who turn 18 while in asylum process should not face ‘blunt categorisation’

The direct provision system,the subject of the 2017 demonstration pictured,  should be replaced with an interim scheme under which no person spends more than six months in the asylum process, a new report says. Photograph:Tom Honan.

The direct provision system,the subject of the 2017 demonstration pictured, should be replaced with an interim scheme under which no person spends more than six months in the asylum process, a new report says. Photograph:Tom Honan.

 

The direct provision system for asylum-seekers should be replaced with an interim scheme under which no person spends more than six months in the asylum process, according to the trust managing Christian Brother schools.

The Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which comprises 96 secondary and primary schools attended by 38,000 students, says direct provision should be replaced with a system that is “compassionate, respectful, caring, fair and short-term”.

The schools group says the State’s reliance on private contractors for accommodation should be superseded by a not-for-profit model. It calls for an end to the arbitrary movement of families and children from one centre to another and the “blunt categorisation” of students as adults from the day they turn 18.

It recommends people spend no longer than six months in the system; that barriers preventing students from continuing their studies at third level are removed; that students in direct provision have access to quiet study spaces; and that emergency centres ensure families and unaccompanied minors have basic privacy in their lodgings.

Additional resources should be provided to schools to pay for books, uniforms and to ensure students’ participation in extracurricular activities while “wraparound support teams” should be assigned to help students with language and mental health needs, according to a report drawn up by the trust.

One student from an asylum-seeking family attending an Edmund Rice school described life in direct provision as “very restrictive” and “monotonous” and said it felt like “living in an institution” while another said the system made him feel “hopeless”.

Michael Walsh, principal of Edmund Rice Secondary School in Carrick-on-Suir, said he was increasingly concerned about the the psychological effects of direct provision on students, noting that one first year student arrives at school an hour before classes begin each morning to do his homework. “He doesn’t have anywhere to do his work back home and he’s also working on it from a reduced base with his language. Another chap in fourth year can’t afford to go on the transition year European trip. That’s going to affect their self esteem and human dignity.”

Another school principal who took part in the research described the system as “inhumane” and warned that it was only “storing up serious problems for the future, for the residents and for our country”.