“Educational disadvantage strangles potential and opportunities, and perpetuates inequality in society,” says Aodhán O’Ríordáin, Vice Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education.
However, only 3 per cent of Ballymun students progress to third level education, thus indicating the challenges for children born there, according to Eleanor McClorey of Young Ballymun, an area-based Prevention and Early Intervention strategy working to improve outcomes in education, health and mental health for all children, young people and families in the area.
“This figure shows the restrictions on a child’s educational potential if they are born in a disadvantaged community like Ballymun,” says John Lyons, Labour TD for Dublin North West.
In order to discuss the developments in this part of Dublin, the Oireachtas Committee invited representatives from both the Young Ballymun Project and the Early Learning Initiative at the National College of Ireland to its meeting last Wednesday.
According to Mr Lyons: “Attendance is the keystone of educational achievement. If this cycle is to be broken, the successes of early intervention programmes like Young Ballymun need to be reinforced at every stage of a child’s education, right up to third level.”
He applauded the efforts of all involved with Young Ballymun, saying: “Having grown up in Ballymun and subsequently taught in Ballymun schools, I have seen the changes taking place in education in the community and the potential this brings. These changes are evident in areas like literacy, numeracy and attendance.”
The Council also learned of the positive developments in Ballymun, as over the last two years more children are attending school more often, approaching the national average for school attendance.