Education leads young people out of poverty

Ger O. has been teaching all his life. As a teacher, he realised that there were always young people left behind. He then became Director of The Life Centre in Dublin, a project in favour of early school leavers.

At the Life Center we cater for boys and girls between the ages of twelve and sixteen who have not made the transfer from primary to post primary school. Who have been excluded from school or cannot cope with the mainstream school system. While catering for the young people’s personal development, they are prepared for the Junior Cert and other qualifications.

In my work I have discovered that each person is talented and special. We work closely with parents, social workers, probation officers, schools and other agencies involved in the lives of these young people. Working with these young people poses a lot of questions for us. Why is there such a need for places like the Life Centre? Are we prepared to meet the young people where they’re at? Are we prepared to listen to them? Is our educational system flexible enough to meet the broader needs of our children? What becomes of those that fall out of school and does anyone care? Are schools being judged by the number of A’s that are achieved? Our kids have many abilities, are we only catering for their academic ones?

I believe that education leads people out of poverty. A holistic system of education gives people a sense of self worth. It restores self confidence and self esteem. We are all gifted. My students are so talented, so unique and yet our school systems have failed them. Young people are walking our streets today because they are not being listened to and they don't seem important. They are made to feel inferior because of their poverty and social background.

To me, ending poverty means to look after the most vulnerable, making sure that they regain their self worth and that they believe in themselves.

Ger O., Ireland