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Urban teenagers face unequal access to inclusive education

The morning of school day is an early rise for Rosie. It’s something I’m not used to.

Her elementary school was just a short walk away, but now in first grade, the 13-year-old leaves home with her sister by 7:15 am.

Two buses are used for their school commute. The first takes you to Dublin city center and the second leaves again. Roughly the same direction as the first departure.

Their school is about 6 km away, but Dublin is Dublin, so it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to travel by public transport.

Their mother says it may still take some time to get home.

Rosie* and her sister live in Dublin 8, according to new Maynooth University research.

Far from tackling education inequality, the study found that the country perpetuated it with the approach it took to create new schools in this part of the capital.

More broadly, the study found that children living in cities generally changed less in terms of access to a non-discriminatory and inclusive education than their rural cousins.

The study found that the country’s approach to creating new schools perpetuates inequalities in education.

Today, the majority of rural schools (97%) are mixed-gender, but in the Dublin City Council area the proportion has fallen to just 40%.

In rural Ireland there is 1 free mixed-sex and interfaith school for every 525 children, while in Dublin City there is 1 such school for every 2,840 children, according to 2016 data. There was only one.

As further proof that Dublin City children have no choice, over 80% of the capital’s secondary schools are segregated by religion and almost 20% are fee-based.

However, the situation becomes even more concerning when the study focuses on two urban areas in Dublin City.

Rosie goes to school by two buses

We can see a wide disparity in state investment in second level education in the wealthier Dublin 4 districts compared to the less fortunate Dublin 8 districts.

To give just one example of the achievement gap between the two areas, in Dublin 4 99% of children go on to higher education, whereas in Dublin 8 only 28% go on.

When it comes to public investment, disadvantaged areas come out on top, and some believe that given all the concerns about tackling disadvantage, the state will invest more in providing education in these areas. there will be

However, in this study, we found the opposite. Dublin 8 found a ‘significantly lower level’ of state investment in post-primary education compared to Dublin 4 and 6.

The research was conducted by Dr. JoAnne Mancini, associate professor of history in the Department of History at Maynooth University, and the peer-reviewed study is about to be published in an academic journal.

Based primarily on 2016 data, that year the state overfunded post-primary places in wealthy D4 neighborhoods, with 1,857 deaths compared to the number of 13-18 year-olds living there. You can see that there is space left over.

However, in the more disadvantaged Dublin 8, there is a serious space shortage and a deficit, forcing some 780 teenagers to move out of the community each day to attend second-level school. rice field.

It was before the school that Rosie and her sister attended opened.

Girls are among this cohort of children bearing the brunt of this underinvestment. The amount of time spent by this group puts him 50% above the state average commuting time. It also exceeds the national average for adult commuters.

“School is great, but she’s exhausted and finds the commute really hard,” says Rosie’s mother.

Two girls attend Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School.

Planning decisions by the education ministry are helping to exacerbate inequalities, not correct them, report says

It opened in 2018 as Dublin South City Educate Together Secondary School (DSCETSS). This is partly to address Dublin 8’s chronic shortage of inclusive post-primary places.

The opening of the new school was in many ways a watershed moment.

The report states: “Before the establishment of the DSCETSS, the part of Dublin City Council south of the River Liffey that taught the complete educational curriculum required for admission to all schools, There was not a single post-primary school devoted to educating children, a college subject, not segregated by religion, gender, or ability to pay.

“Therefore, the opening of DSCETSS represents a triumph for equal and inclusive education in Dublin.”

However, according to Maynooth’s research, the victory was “slow and partial.”

I am very critical of the Ministry of Education’s decision to locate the new school in the easternmost part of Dublin 4. and 8.

The address says it all. The school is located on Beach Road with the Irish Sea on one side.

The school’s location exacerbated the difficulties faced by families in the Dublin 8 region, necessitating cross-urban journeys of up to 8.5 km without direct public transport links for children living there. .

A pin marks the location of Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School (Source: Google Maps)

There is also a financial burden on parents. Rosie could go directly to school by private bus, but that costs €45 per child per week, her mother says.

“The locations in which the schools were chosen were not only geographically distant but also socio-economically exclusive,” the study notes, “perpetuating systemic inequalities in the provision of education.” rice field”.

The study found that the state’s investment in inclusive education is “highly unequal.” Children in urban areas like Dublin 8 are denied access to modern inclusive schools. The reason is that new schools of the kind now found in Irish towns and in the outer suburban ring of Dublin – modern, purpose-built schools with new buildings and broader curriculum – simply their Not built in the area.

It said the planning decisions being made by the Ministry of Education are helping to exacerbate inequality instead of improving it.

Since 2016 and 2018, new schools have opened on the outskirts of the capital. One has also opened in Dublin 12 and some families in Dublin 8 are choosing to send their children there.

However, the underlying issues addressed in this report remain and affect other city cores outside the capital.

A few years ago, the headmaster of a disadvantaged sex-segregated religious school in Dublin 8 said they felt a catastrophic stagnation of post-primary education within the canal-bound Dublin city limits. He told me that he was dissatisfied with

“We are a modern European capital,” said the principal.

The principal could have said the same thing today.

Rosie’s name has been changed for this report