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Ireland: The teaching profession is failing to reflect the diversity of modern Ireland

10% of children attending primary level education in Ireland are non-Irish and more than 30,000 have either no religion or a faith other than Catholic. However, the teaching corps is far from reflecting this diversity. The conclusion of a study carried out by the National University of Ireland in Galway resonate with Ryma Halfaoui, a 19-year-old 1st year teacher trainee from Dublin, whose parents are originally from Algeria.

Researchers found that up to 98% of trainee teachers claim Irish nationality and more than 95% are “white Irish”. Numbers revealed by this Diversity in Initial Teacher Education in Ireland won't come as a surprise to Ryma Halfaoui who discovered at the beginning of the school year that out of 460 students, she was the only Muslim in her class and, according to a college pastor, the first they’ve had on campus. Halfaoui on her first day at college was surprised by the overall absence of different ethnicities. “It wasn’t like there were no Muslims or no hijabis. There were no Asians or brown people or Indians either” she says. Read her full testimony 

Earlier this year, Minister for Education Richard Bruton announced the allocation of €2.4 million in funding to promote diversity in the teaching profession. The efforts are however only focused on people from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with a disability, and members of the Traveller community while other ethnic or religious minorities are not being specifically targeted.