Yellow Flag Awards for Schools Tackling Racism and Promoting Inclusion

by Gazette Reporter
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Five schools, two primary and three post primary, from Dublin, Clare and Kerry achieved Yellow Flag status at a ceremony to mark their efforts in tackling racism and promoting inclusion of all cultures, ethnicities and religions at an online event opened by Minister for Education Norma Foley and hosted by RTE Presenter and author of The Same but Different, Emer O’Neill.

To be awarded schools must complete 8 steps of the intercultural Programme which aims to improve educational outcomes for all children through a learning environment where diversity is valued and celebrated. Part of their efforts must include establishing a Diversity Committee of students, parents and teachers, a research survey of inclusion issues, a teacher workshop, the development of an anti-racism policy and classroom-based work. Following a positive assessment schools receive a flag to be raised outside their building, signaling to the wider community it is an inclusive anti-racist environment.

Speaking at the ceremony teacher Clíona Hallissy of St. Brigid’s Secondary School, Killarney said; “In a school community it’s important that all voices are heard. Those voices need to be diverse, inclusive and representative of the entire school community. Through the Yellow Flag programme, we have asked our students to lend us their voice to celebrate other cultures, languages, sexualities and ways of life.”

Kitty Mc Dermott, Mariam Adesewa Akinola and Gabriella Zayec from Firhouse Educate Together National School celebrating their yellow flag win on Thursday. Pic John Mc Elroy

Over half of all students from the five 2022 awardee schools said they had witnessed racism within schools and over 1 in 4 had experienced it.  Molly Martin Brady, coordinator of the Programme said; “The Awards Ceremony is an occasion to showcase the work done by schools and officially welcome them to the Yellow Flag Community of 103 schools nationally. Yellow Flag is a proven model of change but is only available to pupils lucky enough to attend a school that opts into the Programme, as currently there is no direct State investment, which demotes anti-racism and inclusion to a luxury for a few, rather than a necessity for all. Today’s schools are evidence of what’s possible through a whole school approach to meaningful intercultural education”

Some of the innovative projects produced by schools in 2022 included;

·  a transformative art project about migration, refugees and displaced people, with pupils immersing themselves in how an asylum-seeker might feel in a new country where images were displayed on the school walls.

·  Several schools encouraged pupils in critical thought and analysis of current affairs via classroom debates centered on the topic of migration and refugees.

·  Some created short videos to introduce the student population to key words, concepts and definitions around diversity and inclusion and how to recognise discrimination and racism and combat it in school.

·  To celebrate Traveller ethnicity, a parent was invited in to showcase traditional Traveller culture and Traveller competency learning.

·  Another school erected an intercultural library in the entrance foyer incorporating all ethnicities, cultures and religions within the school community, and set the tone of inclusion at the entrance.

Receiving their school’s flag, student Lee Buivids of Firhouse Educate Together National School said: “If you are in an environment where diversity is present and celebrated everywhere, you will begin to celebrate as well”.

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