Speaking on the key findings in the report today, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, “This research solidifies the issues and concerns our members have been raising for months. The public health crisis we are going through raises new challenges. The Government is about to launch an economic stimulus package which is very welcome. However, the ESRI research shows that we are facing an ever-widening gap between children and young people in this country. There are now high levels of disengagement from education by disadvantaged young people. High levels of drop out. High levels of youth unemployment and many children with disabilities suffering with learning and developmental loss because of day care and school closures.
We urgently need a National Plan to Tackle the Educational Needs of Children and Young People due to Covid19. The formal and non-formal education sectors have a key role to play in closing the gap and addressing the social and emotional needs of children and young people. The new Government is well-placed to lead such a plan and investing in innovative education supports, universal youth services and therapeutic supports will be key.”
The study focuses on four main domains:
• Family and peer relationships;
• Formal and informal learning;
• Physical and mental health and wellbeing; and
• Transitions to further/higher education, training and the youth labour market.
“What this pandemic has also exposed are the inequalities that existed in Irish society long before Covid-19 hit. These inequalities are worsening as we grapple with this virus and they will only continue to widen if the Government does not respond. This could result in many young people disengaging from education with long term implications for their future, in the labour market and in society more generally. Short term measures and immediate responses were required at the start of this pandemic, but long-term policy solutions are needed to address the lasting impact these inequalities will have on our young people, especially more marginalised groups such as children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with special educational needs and migrants and refugees,” Tanya Ward concluded.