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The study evaluates the role of the Senior Traveller Training Centres regarding further education. The centres provide basic compensatory education for Travellers aged 18 upwards. The aim of the centres is to provide Travellers with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to successfully make the transition to work and adult life. It examines the rationale for the centres, the management structure, why people decide to go to the centres, and the curriculum. The study also highlights the difficulties the Traveller community have faced in the past and are still facing today in terms of equality of outcomes in education. Travellers are seen as being different in terms of their culture, lifestyle, traditions and value systems. This has had a profound negative effect regarding their progress and development in education compared to the settled population. Entwined in Traveller culture and values is the gender issue which creates different roles for men and women within the community itself. The research involved interviewing Directors and students from the centres and representatives from Pavee Point, the Irish Traveller Movement, the National Co-ordinator for the Training Centres and a secondary school teacher. I gained a valuable insight into how the centres are run on the ground and how the students see them. There were varying opinions from all the participants on the centres, both positive and negative. The findings uncovered contrasting opinions on the centres. The students were very positive about their participation. They felt they were enhancing their education and as Traveller women were more confident, independent and had more self-belief. The Directors were very passionate about the centres. The work they did on the ground never came to light in any reports or statistics. They had to make the best of the resources they had. However, representatives from Traveller organisations claimed that the centres were detrimental to Travellers progress in further education. The management structure was contested due to the fact that there are no Traveller Directors after 34 years. The centres were also criticised regarding the allowance that students are paid. This is seen as drawing people into the centres. In conclusion, the centres are a valuable outlet for the Traveller community. They provide courses to facilitate the progress of Travellers onto further education and employment. The research highlights a need for the re-structuring of the centres based on the Community Education model, while still maintaining the ethos of the development and maintenance of Traveller culture, traditions, personal development and foundation education such as literacy and numeracy skills.
Foley, Maureen: An Evaluation of the Role of Senior Traveller Training Centres.Masters Dissertation. Dublin, DIT, September 2008.