Women in the Traveler community hailed a specially designed college course as “life-changing” as they graduated today.
The 19 women, who come from Traveler families in the South, completed the Community Leadership program at University College Cork (UCC), developed by the university, the Southern Traveler Health Network and adult education.
All 19 completed the course – affirming that it will change lives.
Anne Burke of the Southern Traveler Health Network said it will help women improve their lives and the lives of their families.
“The course covers issues like education, housing and health – issues that are statistically bad for the community. We need people in the community to show leadership, and that empowers them,” Ms. Burke said.
“This course will change lives. The rate of second level education among Travelers is appalling, so it is life-changing that these women have access to tertiary education – not just for them, but for their families and their wider communities.”
Ms Burke said it was a remarkable achievement for the 19 women to juggle their busy lives with family commitments and their UCC studies – in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Here we have 19 women who never benefited from education but had the ability to go on and achieve it. It shows that with the right support, people can achieve things,” she said.
Evaluation research found that travelers are prevented from accessing higher education for a number of reasons, including negative practices such as prior segregation in the education system, fear of racism and discrimination, lower literacy and digital skills related to early school leaving, homelessness and poverty, and the lack of recognition of the Traveler culture in the education system.
SOAR project coordinator Sheila McGovern said it is crucial that such issues are addressed in order to encourage upskilling.
“This assessment report underscores the importance of working in partnership with the Traveler community in program design and delivery to enable greater participation.”
Traveler Visibility Group staff member Breda O’Donoghue said enormous credit goes to the course participants and those who designed the programme.
The SOAR project is an inter-agency collaboration between IT Carlow, MTU Cork & Kerry, WIT and project leader UCC and community partners to develop and deliver strategies to improve access to higher education for those who are currently under-represented.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/19-traveller-women-graduate-from-pioneering-university-course-that-they-say-will-change-lives-41554474.html 19 traveling women complete a groundbreaking university course they say will “change lives”.