Student teachers committed to social justice

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Service Learning Project, School of Education, NUI GalwayPictured at the School of Education Service Learning ceremony at NUI Galway: Professor Jim Ward, Registrar and Deputy President, NUI Galway; members of the Galway Traveller Movement; Postgraduate Diploma in Education students at NUI Galway; and Elaine Keane, Dr. Josephine Boland and Dr. Pat Eaton from the School of Education, NUI Galway.

Service Learning is a teaching strategy designed to actively engage students in the learning process in a reflective and critical way, by responding to a need identified by community.

This year, fifteen student teachers at the School of Education, NUI Galway, worked as tutors in the Galway Traveller Movement (GTM) ‘Pavee Study’ Homework Club, as one element of a university-community partnership.

Initiated in 2006, the Service Learning project is led by Elaine Keane and Dr. Josephine Boland, Lecturers in the School of Education. 

It aims to enhance the educational achievement of minority ethnic and other marginalised post-primary school pupils, while simultaneously supporting student teachers in the context of their development as educators committed to a social justice ethos.

One of the goals of the project is to explore ways in which this teaching and learning strategy, if embedded in teacher education programmes nationally, can contribute to teacher preparation for a multicultural society.  

The event to mark the achievements of the student teachers also celebrated the collaborative partnership between the School of Education and two community organisations – the Galway Traveller Movement (GTM) and the Galway Refugee Support Group (GRSG).

Participants at the event were welcomed by Dr. Pat Eaton, Head of School of Education, who noted the project’s close alignment with the School’s mission, which includes serving as a resource to the wider educational community.

Presentations were made by Elaine Keane and Dr. Josephine Boland (School of Education), Hannagh McGinley and Breda McDonagh (GTM staff), Pavee Study pupils and student teachers, who shared their learning from the experience.

Professor Jim Ward, Registrar and Deputy President, NUI Galway, presented the Postgraduate Diploma in Education students with Certificates of Achievement and acknowledged all those involved in the initiative.

Prof Ward highlighted the significance of such initiatives for student and staff engagement and for realising NUI Galway’s commitment to civic engagement.