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Segregation proposal deeply misguided - Doherty

20 August, 2008 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said the proposal from Fine Gael Education Spokesperson Brian Hayes to segregate non English speaking children in schools until they learn English is deeply misguided and said the Government should be concentrating on living up to its commitments on class sizes in order that all children can avail of more teacher time.

Senator Doherty said today, "Fine Gael Education Spokesperson Brian Hayes raises a very important issue but his response is deeply misguided. The problems in the education of our children are not caused by immigration but rather by a lack of investment in education.

"Many parents are rightly worried about the education of their children and the amount of time teachers can spend with them. However the problem arises from the Government's failure to live up to its promise to reduce class sizes.

"Smaller class sizes are proven to increase the learning ability of our children and this is where the Government's focus should be. The proposal to segregate non English speaking children is deeply misguided and could lead to an increase in racial tensions.

"The best way for these children to learn English is to be integrated with the other children who do speak English and to be taught through that medium.

"There also needs to be a restoration of the training for teachers teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL). We need to start treating EAL teaching as the special skill that it is and work to ensure that we have a body of highly-trained, permanent language support teachers for every school where they are needed. Anything less short-changes both teachers and students and impedes the aim of integrating newcomer children into our communities." ENDS

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