How can Education and Training Work for Traveller Men?
Education is integral to combating financial exclusion. In December, National Traveller MABS co-hosted a seminar with the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) entitled “Engaging Traveller Men”. Over 80 people, representing the 4 provinces of Ireland were in attendance.
The seminar aimed to examine why many Traveller men did not participate in education and training programmes and how this could be addressed. Angela Black (CEO of CIB) launched the research report undertaken by Dermot Sreenan, entitled ‘It’s all About Education – Making Education Work for Traveller men’. Angela highlighted how the engagement of Traveller men in both education and training is clearly part of the National Traveller and Roma Integration Strategy (NTRIS). She noted how the recommendations in the report identified how such engagement could be achieved.
Dermot Sreenan identified why the research was undertaken and how it represents the experience of Traveller men. He detailed proposed models for engaging Traveller men. Primarily, he noted the need to provide relevant training and education and the need for a safe respectful culturally appropriate space for the men to meet in. Critical too was the need for participants to see opportunities to progress into employment in order to ‘provide for their families’.
TJ Hogan (Traveller Pride Education Award Winner 2016) a third level student in Cork Institute of Technology, spoke eloquently of his own experience of exclusion within the education system. TJ, currently in his third year of studies, places a great importance on the future State recognition of Traveller ethnicity. This he feels is central to bringing the necessary reforms to our education system to make it more inclusive.
Dr. Thomas Murray from An Cósan, virtual Community Education College provided an insight into how community education should be practised. Learners should be encouraged to question the world, to base their learnings on their own experience, and in this way become empowered as both individuals and as part of their communities.
Patsy Sweeney, from the Galway Traveller Movement (GTM) detailed how his involvement with GTM enabled him to study with the National University in Galway. Patsy spoke of the enterprise, First Class Insulation, established with GTM which provides employment to Traveller men. Employment he stressed is vital for Traveller men- allowing them to provide for their families.
Bernard Joyce, the Director of the Irish Traveller Movement, spoke of the importance of initiatives being Traveller led. He stressed that engagement had to happen in an appropriate space and that stakeholders needed to demonstrate support and a degree of flexibility.
As the state moves towards recognising Travellers as a distinct ethnic group, the importance of continuing this conversation was noted by all.
For photographs of this event please click here.