Development education in schools goal of new EU project
2015-12-01 14:14:07 -

By Fionnuala Flynn


Development education in primary schools across Europe is the aim of a new project part-funded by the European Union.


Global Schools: Primary Education for a Just World was launched by the Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education (CHRCE) at St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, in partnership with development charity Trócaire, on Thursday 18 November.


Over the next three years, the project aims to make development education integral to primary curricula throughout the EU through research, teacher education, school-based events and resource development.


Climate justice and human migration will be themes of focus during the project, a key initiative of this year’s European Year for Development, and the launch event hosted a symposium for educators on how to respond to the current refugee crisis and related complex global topics.


Jody Clarke of the UNHCR and Noelle Fitzpatrick of Trócaire’s humanitarian team outlined the root problems and conflicts driving the current crisis, and misconceptions in public opinion on the relationship between refugees and terrorism, particularly in the light of recent events in Europe.


“Refugees do not create terrorism – terrorism creates refugees,” said Clarke.


Also speaking were Julian Clare of Irish Aid and Prof Fionnuala Waldron, dean of education at St Patrick’s College, who underlined the need for schools to welcome refugee children – and provide for greater cultural pluralism in the classroom.


Prof Waldron particularly encouraged teachers to tackle this and other global matters in their classrooms, based on research that identifies that children from age three are capable of thinking globally and engaging empathetically with such issues.


The audience comprised various professionals and interested parties from primary education, academia and the NGO sector, as well as a number of individuals with personal experience as refugees in Ireland, both Bosnian and Syrian.


Motasem, from Syria, spoke about his experience of coming to Ireland as a refugee from Syria.


He also explained in moving detail that after over four years of war, families will risk anything just to get away from the conflict situation – even if that means making very dangerous journeys.


Mirza from Bosnia acknowledged that ordinary people in Ireland have had a much more welcoming attitude than the official position, and that if new initiatives were promoted, such as parishes accepting refugees, Ireland could do a lot more.


He also said that today, 20 years since Bosnian refugees arrived from their war-torn homeland, Ireland still has a lot to learn with regard to education and representation of refugees and children from other cultural backgrounds, stressing the importance of integration.


Prof Daire Keogh, president of St Patrick’s College, opened the event, with reference to the records  that St Patrick himself was a migrant and a victim of human trafficking.


Trócaire’s Finola Finnan closed the evening and officially launched the project, underlining the successes of the partnership between St. Patrick’s College and Trócaire thus far and its continuation in the form of this project.


The discussion was chaired by Brian Ruane, programme leader of the CHRCE.

TAGS : Development education EU Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education CHRCE Refugee Crisis
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