Just 8% of Travellers complete their Leaving Cert

New report shows numbers are significantly behind the national average

Just 8% of Travellers complete their Leaving Cert

File photo. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A new report shows that just 8% of working age Travellers completed their Leaving Cert before 2011.

Research was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) - which examines the disadvantages experienced by members of the Travelling community - in an effort to establish a reason for the low rate.

Based on analysis of the 2011 Census, the ESRI found that Travellers are far more likely to leave school early than non-Travellers.

'Nomadism' is outlined as a key factor, with the body suggesting that a "cultural shift" is needed in their attitude to education.

Among the 25-34 age group, 9% of Travellers have completed the Leaving Cert, compared to 86% of non-Travellers.

That gap is even wider than among the larger ‘working age’ group, suggesting that Travellers have benefited less from the greater access to education since the 1960s.

However, it fails to measure the impact of unprecedented cuts to Traveller education that took place since.

In 2011 all additional educational supports aimed specifically at Travellers were eliminated. 

"The results highlighted the significance of education," according to the report’s author Dorothy Watson.

The stats, printed in today's Irish Examiner, also show that Travellers are six times more likely to end up unemployed.

Marriage and family

The report found marital status by age group for Traveller and non-Traveller adults aged 15 years and over in 2011.

In the 15 to 24 age group, 24% of Travellers have married, compared to less than 2% of non-Travellers.

The figures for those aged 25–34 years are 59% (with an additional 9% formerly married) among Travellers and 32% (2% formerly married) among the other population.

The fertility rate among Traveller women in 2011 was also recorded as being significantly higher, with just over half of Traveller women aged between 45–64 years had over six children.

Newstalk Drive's Henry McKean met staff and students from St Thomas Traveller School in Coolock, Dublin.

Principal Bernie McCloskey called for the "unbelievable cutbacks that were made against the most marginalised part of our community" to be immediately reversed.

"I think that it's very difficult to expect the Traveller community to be able to take opportunities when they're not supported.

"Only 1% go into college of the whole community [and] a minuscule percentage do the Leaving Certificate," she explained.