Dublin Docklands scheme keeps children in school

Ten years ago, 54.4 per cent of the population in the Dublin Docklands area had left education at 15, 23.6 per cent had left school at primary level, only 10 per cent did their leaving certificate and one per cent of the population went to third-level education.

Now only 13 per cent leave school at primary level, 60 per cent do their leaving certificate and 10 per cent go onto third-level education. There are 160 docklands residents attending university and one female resident is a qualified barrister.

In the last few years the Docklands area has undergone significant social regeneration under the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), which came into being in 1997. By 2012, over 11,000 new homes will have been built and the population will have almost doubled, giving a total population for the area of 42,500.

The DDDA have also been partly responsible for the turnaround in education. It runs a scholarship programme and has funded 116 residents' university costs. They also fund free French classes for four primary schools and two secondary schools. They will fund 75 per cent of the €6m needed to build a new school in the area.

The schools themselves have also worked hard to keep children in education. They established a principals' forum with 22 principals who meet four times a year. Four pilot programmes based on an American emotional intelligence scheme are to begin in schools this autumn. The scheme, by James Coner, has been credited with turning around a Brooklyn school from one of the worst schools in the area to one of the top three schools in New York.

Employers in the IFSC area have also tried to discourage early school-leaving by promising 15 jobs every year to residents who have completed school.

Betty Ash, who is one of the founders of the St Andrew's Resource Centre on Pearse Street, says, "A lot more people are keeping kids in the area, more kids are staying in school and going on to work in the IFSC."

Although things have massively improved in the area since the DDDA arrival in 1997 a recent audit of infrastructure showed that more playgrounds, community centres and public spaces are needed. And there is still no public swimming pool in the area.

Emma Browne