Education

 

Under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, education in Ireland is compulsory from age 6 to 16 or until students, including children of asylum seekers, have completed three years of second level (post-primary) education. 

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the national agency with responsibility for encouraging and supporting regular school attendance. It can assist parents in securing a school place for their child where local efforts to do so have failed. 

Some adult asylum seekers, upon arrival in Ireland, do not speak English and are unfamiliar with the Irish education system. Managers of Direct Provision Centres including staff in RIA (which includes staff seconded from the Department of Education and Skills) can assist parents in the enrolment of their children in local schools.

First level schools (also called national or primary schools) are required to enrol children in accordance with their enrolment policy. They may accept children on or after the 1st September following their fourth birthday.

Schools are obliged to enrol any child in respect of whom application for admission has been made, except where a refusal is in accordance with their admissions policy, published by the school under Section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act, 1998, and is necessary to protect the ethos of the school. Such an admissions policy cannot discriminate on grounds of nationality or legal status. The Equal Status Acts specify four areas in which a school must not discriminate

· the admission of a student, including the terms or conditions of the admission of a student,

· the access of a student to a course, facility or benefit provided by the school,

· any other terms or conditions of participation in the school and

· the expulsion of a student or any other sanction.

Transport is provided to eligible children based on distance from school, in keeping with the terms of the School Transport Scheme operated by Bus Eireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Parents of children living in RIA centres can apply for financial assistance towards the purchase of school uniforms under the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme BTSCFA from the local Community Welfare Officer.

An exemption from fees for State Examinations (the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate) is available to holders of medical cards, including children of asylum seekers.

Children of preschool age have access to preschool education in the same basis as Irish children under the Early Childhood Care Scheme ECCE.

Adult asylum seekers may avail of free access to adult literacy and English language tuition: these are provided only by Vocational Educational Committees (VECs). The local VECs provide English language classes using local tutors.

The CDVEC Separated Children’s Service has been working with Separated Children Seeking Asylum since 2001 and provides a youth and education service to SCSA and young people from refugee backgrounds.

Asylum seekers cannot access any State supports in order to access courses in the Higher and Further education Sector.The Department of Education and Skills produced a memo dated 27 September 2001 for Chief Executive Offices of VECs, Principals of PLC Colleges and National Coordinators regarding access to PLC, VTOS and Youthreach programmes for non EU nationals. This memo outlines the arrangements that apply to non-Irish nationals who seek entry to education. This memo can be found on the link at the start of the preceding paragraph. 

Here is a link to the website of the Department of Education & Skills