London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

The challenge of multiculturalism for citizenship education in Irish post-primary schools

Author(s) Marie Clarke, Maureen Killeavy and Conor Harrison  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
This paper presents the first report of a qualitative investigation involving teacher education students, teachers and pupils in Irish post-primary education. Schools in Ireland have become increasingly multicultural during the past decade with the arrival of immigrant families and refugees from many parts of the world, and the Department of Education and Science has made some provision for this ongoing change in the school population at the level of central planning. However, few studies have looked at these developments with regard to what happens in classrooms and the effect on pupils and teachers, or the implications for teacher education and curriculum development at school level. The first part of this paper discusses an analysis of the changing school population and multiculturalism in Ireland, and the implications of this for citizenship education; the second part reports on an initial investigation on the perceptions of student teachers concerning aspects of multiculturalism and citizenship education. In the past, citizenship education in the Republic of Ireland had a narrow focus on local community and national issues; society was treated as a homogenous unit and consequently multicultural issues did not feature in citizenship education. European Union membership from 1973 onwards, followed by increasing numbers of applicants for asylum and legal status from very diverse backgrounds during the 1990s, highlighted the major challenges faced by those involved in citizenship education. This was reflected in the Civic, Social and Political Programme introduced into the second level curriculum in 1997 and in the Revised Primary Curriculum introduced into the first level in 1999. The presence of many diverse groups in society meant that new views, ideas and approaches had to be developed within new educational programmes

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