The Association of CSPE Teachers (ACT)
Supporting Citizenship Education in Ireland
and Asylum Seekers on the Green
by Jeanne Barrett, Loreto, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin.
This action project came about as a result of a video that came into the school, called "Know Racism" as part of the anti-racist campaign that was being run by the government. The viewing of the video led to some lively classroom debate afterwards, and a desire on the part of the students to gain a better understanding of the terms and definitions used to describe various peoples who have left their place of birth for one reason or another.
The project involved the following series of actions:
1. The students participated in a role play using the 'freeze frame' technique to help them better understand what it would be like to suddenly have to leave your home, with only a few possessions, as a result of a war.
2. The students completed a 'mix and match' exercise to help them identify the terms 'refugee', 'programme refugee', 'displaced person', ' asylum seeker', 'economic migrant' etc.
3. The students decided that they would like to invite a guest speaker who had first hand knowledge of the refugee situation in Ireland. After some investigation it was decided to contact A.R.A.S.I the Association for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Ireland.
4. In preparation for the visit the class split up into a number of committees a questions committee, a greet and meet committee, a room committee etc.
5. The guest speaker left with the class a lot of statistics and information which was discussed and analysed, including our responsibilities under U.N and E.U sponsored laws.
6. The class decided to do a survey to find out how much other class groups knew about refugees and the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the rights of children born to refugee parents in the Irish State. The results of the survey were displayed on one of the school's notice boards.
7. Newspaper articles covering the Supreme Court ruling were collected by the students and media coverage of the issue was discussed in class.
8. At this stage of the project, the war in Iraq had started and the students were concerned about the creation of a new refugee crisis and heard on the radio advertisements run by U.N.I.C.E.F pointing out the plight of internally displaced children in Iraq.
9. The class made peace badges from white ribbon and safety pins which they sold in the school to raise money for U.N.I.C.E.F. Two hundred euro was raised by the students and sent on to U.N.I.C.E.F.