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Limerick groups show there is a solution - as 1,000 kids nationwide miss out on secondary school PHILIP MUDGE reports LIMERICK has become the leading player nationwide in showing how a schoolenrolment policy can be adopted on a city/county-wide basis to ensure every child is offered a place in second-level education. It is believed there are up to 1000 children annually spread throughout the country who are denied places in second-level education, but their plight is ignored. Limerick city’s experience is becoming a lesson in how to approach the problem. In 2004, over 50 children attending disadvantaged schools in the city were denied places in second level. A campaign was launched, led by the Community Development Network (CDN) Moyross - the local CDP - and the Northside Education Committee, the Social Inclusion Measures Group, and the Community and Voluntary Forum. As a result, the then Minister Noel Dempsey visited Limerick and forced secondary schools to offer places to the excluded children and a system was established to ensure that in future all children would be offered second level places. Juan Carlos Azzopardi co-ordinator of CDN Moyross recalled: "Last year, after a campaign that ended up on the television and radio news, the Minister for Education promised that never again would children be left without places in schools just because of where they lived." However, this year, children again did not

get places, but this time they were not from disadvantaged city schools but mainly from the city’s hinterland and County Limerick. While all the children were eventually offered places, yet again some children were not given their constitutional right to be cherished equally in our society. As Juan Carlos explained: "With intervention from the Department of Education, the schools expanded the enrolment procedure to ensure that every child would get an offer of a school-place." Trish Forde Brennan, PRO of the National Parents Association for Vocational Schools and Community Colleges said that although every child was eventually offered a place, the effect on the child who is not offered a place when the first offers are made "cannot be underestimated." "We believe that notification should be offered to all children at the same time, because when some children have offers and other are waiting it creates a perception of inequality," she said. Added Juan Carlos: "We will find out early in 2006 if everyone gets a place under the new system and we will be monitoring progress on the promises." Though Limerick has piloted a system that is beginning to work for every child, it is crucial that there is ongoing monitoring by those who originally launched the campaign for changes. Now, perhaps other groups in other counties will follow suit.

Once-off grants very popular

MINISTER Noel Ahern announced, on November 21st, the allocation of over €680,000 under Phase 2 of the Community Development Programme’s ‘Once-Off Grants Scheme’. Over €750,000 was approved by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, in the initial phase of the Scheme, based on 162 applications from CDPs nationwide. Under the second phase of the Scheme, a further 59 applications with a value of over €680,000 have been approved. Minister Ahern was delighted with the take-up under the Scheme. He said that the allocation of over €1.4m under both phases of the Scheme would significantly benefit communities throughout the country experiencing disadvantage. "The additional funding will enable CDPs working in these areas to provide a more comprehensive range of services at local level," he said. The scheme provides grants to local CDPs for: • Programme Activities including training; • Equipment, and; • Refurbishment of Premises. CDPs have been advised to submit grant applications for 2006 along with core budget applications (due to be submitted by mid-December). It is expected that decisions regarding grants for 2006 will be made much earlier next year (March-April) to facilitate better planning in respect of programme activities over the course of the year.

New DVD: ‘Fitness for All’

THE Kerry Network of People with Disabilities have produced a DVD called 'Fitness for All'. It was put together by Paul Audley (from the Tralee Institute of Technology), Ursula Barrett and Margaret O'Shea, CDP project co-ordinator.

21 Wicklow families have no loo

Limerick shows the way.

changing ireland

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"IN County Wicklow, there are still 57 Traveller families living on the roadside. And out of the 57 families, 21 have no sanitation. This is in 2005. Even a lot of CDPs don't know much about Traveller issues and facts." - Jim O'Brien, Bray Travellers CDP

nala = national adult literacy agency

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