Written Answers. - Educational Initiatives.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

974 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science the educational initiatives, if any, undertaken by his Department to address the problem of racism; the amount of funding, if any, his Department has allocated since he came into office to voluntary groups working in this area; and if he will fund an organisation (details supplied) which is already actively involved in these initiatives. [1565/99]

The general thrust of my Department's initiatives in addressing the problem of racism is to encourage and promote education which will assist children and young people to understand and value multi-culturalism. The revised curriculum for primary schools, which will be introduced to schools at that level in the near future, includes in its aims the promotion of tolerance and support for diversity in both the school and community. The civic, social and political programme, introduced at the junior cycle of post-primary education, also includes in its aims the encouragement of a positive understanding and acceptance of cultural differences. Increasingly, schools are including respect for diversity as an issue to be addressed in their school planning and provision.

In 1998, my Department provided £5,500 for to support a research study on aspects of racism among second level students. It is expected that the report on this study will be available shortly. Referring to support for voluntary groups working in this area, the role of my Department generally is to co-operate with other Departments and agencies which may be supporting or engaging in various initiatives. For example, my Department co-operated with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, towards the end of 1997, in providing a resource package entitled "Schools and Clubs Against Racism" to all schools and youth organisations. This educational package was developed by the National Co-ordinating Committee for European Year Against Racism in association with the National Youth Council of Ireland. In general, my Department does not provide funds directly to voluntary initiatives in this area and has not done so over the past two years but it would be prepared to co-operate with any other funding agency, in any way possible, in support of voluntary initiatives. Any proposals from the group referred to in the question would be considered in that context.