Island Children Forced to Leave Home at Young Age

Not many people are aware that children living on Inishbofin island are required to leave their home at the age of 12 to attend secondary school. Unlike many of the Gaeltacht islands, Inishbofin lacks post-primary education options. Consequently, young children either have to live with another caregiver or one of their parents, or the entire family must leave their home island.

For years, the Inishbofin Secondary School Initiative Steering Group has been tirelessly advocating for an improvement in this situation. Unfortunately, their efforts have yielded no tangible results. Even the newly launched ‘Our Living Islands – Islands Policy 2030’ and its corresponding ‘Action Plan 2023-2026,’ while acknowledging the negative impact of the absence of secondary school education on islands, fail to include any measures to address this issue.

The Galway-Roscommon Education & Training Board GRETB experts have compiled an extensive report highlighting the pressing need for improvements in this area. Our hope is that this report, which to this day hasn’t been actioned on, will be properly looked at and considered by the GRETB Board and the Department of Education – and for a clear plan to be put in place on how the situation on Inishbofin could be supported. Otherwise it will not be viable for young families to live and establish their lives on our island for years to come.

You can access the report by following this link: GRETB Report on Inishbofin post primary school application Post-Primary School Application_FINAL.

In addition to these efforts, the Steering Group has also reached out to the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights regarding this matter. View the letter through the following link: Ombudsman_Inishbofin Secondary School Steering Group_Letter.

By shedding light on these challenges and advocating for change, the Island Secondary School Initiative Steering Group is striving to ensure that all children, regardless of their island residence, have access to education.