A Place For Eva



Last night.

Government Buildings, Merrion Street, Dublin 2

Eva Panicker age four, and her father Roopesh Panicker seeking to draw attention to what they call Ireland’s ‘educational apartheid’.

Eva was refused entry to her local national school because she is not Christian. Mr Panicker and his wife Najamol Kalangara say they were repeatedly told the school was entitled to give preference to Catholic children.

(Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie)

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100 thoughts on “A Place For Eva

  1. ollie

    She was refused a place in the school because there are not enough places. Religion was used to decide who got the places, the school could also have used a lottery, made people queue up overnight, interviewed, arranged a 100m race.
    FG/labour must be deighted that an issue of underfunding for education has been turned into a religious debate.

    1. Nilbert

      isn’t that the point though? they could have used a lottery or any other fairer basis (age of the child, proximity of their address etc), but they didn’t. They chose to discriminate on the basis of religion, that’s the entire point. Regardless of how many places are available, they chose to use religion to discriminate. That’s the issue at hand…

      1. ollie

        No it’s not the point. The point is simple, there are not enough places in our schools to accommodate all those who wish to be enrolled.
        The current and past governments have failed our children.

        1. manolo

          That’s another issue, which can be fixed by paying more taxes or voting for a government that think education is important.

          But, no matter what, there is no excuse to deny a place to a child in a state funded school on grounds of religion. This is an odious practice and a national embarrassment for a country that wants to be perceived as modern and diverse.

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          “The point is simple, there are not enough places in our schools to accommodate all those who wish to be enrolled.”

          Uh huh, and to decide who gets the places and who doesn’t, they look at the religion that the children were labelled with by their parents. That is why everyone is talking about this.

    2. Yer Ma

      If a lottery system was used people would not be as justifiably upset, as it would be on the understanding that while places are limited to X number in each school, their child would have just as much chance of getting a place as any other. The discrimination on the basis of religion in school admission policies is the problem here, not just the lack of available places in a catchment area.

    3. Spaghetti Hoop

      Yes but it’s the wrong filter to use.
      Think about 10 jobs and 100 people applying….the recruiter might choose to shortlist based on those with a degree. Had they used race, gender or religion they would be accused of discrimination. As are our schools.

        1. newsjustin

          The child’s father seems to be hung up on the idea that she should be able to walk to school (from the Irish Times this morning). While that’s a laudable goal, it’s not really realistic everywhere. She’s now attending a (catholic) school 30 mins drive away. I’d be interested to know how far away that school is…..30mins in Dublin traffic may not get you very far.

          1. Disasta

            Hate hate HATE the fact that I’ll christen my kids to get them into a local walkable school. Its grinds my gears. It enrages me.

          2. Caroline

            I think most people think twice. One of the thoughts is often “Maybe the school system could be changed so that this isn’t necessary”.

          3. Disasta

            Would you newsjustin, please explain?

            Those were my thoughts Caroline but that’s not going to happen any time soon by the looks of things.

          4. newsjustin

            Disasta. I mean that I would probably not baptise a child just so the child could walk to school.

            And if you hate the thought of doing it so much, why not simple not do it.

          5. Disasta

            Because we need the child to be able to walk to school from home. There are family conditions that mean this is necessary and I have additional reasons for preferring this.

          6. dhanratty090

            “And if you hate the thought of doing it so much, why not simple not do it.”

            Did you note just read the article about how people who aren’t catholic get last pick for places in school?

  2. Alex Chilton

    Religion should be out of PUBLIC funded schools. If parents wish to teach their children regarding their religion it should be at home and/or through their church. I think some churches in the US run Sunday schools for this purpose.

    1. donkey_kong

      but what about the tax payer who want religion in schools , are their rights of a lower class than the atheist militant rabble.

        1. ReproBertie

          No thanks. I tell my kids fairy tales at bed time. They don’t need to hear them in school too.

      1. pedeyw

        Keeping religion out of schools doesn’t mean pushing an atheist agenda, it just means putting everyone on the same level and ensuring this kind of nonsense doesn’t happen.

    2. mauriac

      +1 this becomes more imperative as Ireland diversifies .heard David Quinn debating this and he wanted a school for every twobit sect with improved indoctrination. madness and a recipe for social strife in the future…

    3. hmmmm

      look either you have fully private schools or you have partially funded private schools – what we have now for the most part- or combination… you cannot have partially funded private schools and dictate them not to educate religion, which is basic human right

      1. Liggy

        What? Who is this “we” of whom you speak. Ireland has public schools – 100% paid for by the taxpayer and run by the Church (shudder), private school (some with or without religious affiliations)
        Where are these partially funded private schools

        Oh and by the way, access education and the freedom to practice religious expression are human rights under the UN. There is not HR act which covers educate religion

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “but don’t let the actual truth get in the way of a good rant.”

      Yes, let’s stop the national conversation about schools denying places to children because of their religion because one Hindu child actually applied late.

      1. donkey_kong

        you missed my point entirely which is commonplace with you. I think you do this on purpose to shoehorn your point in regardless of what you are arguing about

        I did say there may be a campaign in here somewhere….but this campaign is based on a falsehood.
        Her hindu-ism has nothing to do with her preferred school rejecting her.
        End of. The corner stone of the campaign i.e the rejection of Eva is a false premise.

        1. Vote Rep #1

          From the article:

          “In November 14th, 2014, they got a letter from the first school saying there was no place for Eva, but she would be put on a waiting list and could also apply for September 2016.

          “I called the school. The lady said we were on the wait list. She could not assure us of a place, even in 2016. Then she asked if we were aware of the enrolment policy, that it was a Catholic school.””

          So, even if they applied a year early, they could not be assured of a place because she is not catholic. So her Hindu-ism does seem to have something to do with her preferred school possibly rejecting her.

          1. ollie

            “seem to have”, “possibly”. Is this the basis of your argument?
            If so, I maybe might agree somewhat sort of.

  3. Eamonn Clancy

    The school is full. There’s a host of kids who didn’t get it. Cheap shot to use religion or race.

    1. Clo

      Heard the father on the radio yesterday. He tried 6 schools before he got a place for his child. Meanwhile, he lives a few hundred metres from the first choice school. His daughter went to playschool across the road from the school and all her little Catholic pals from the playschool and who she lives nearby to who wanted to go to that school got in while she did not. He had to give up his job in order to be able to escort her to and from school and now is looking for part-time work. That the school is full is not the point: it is the unfairness of the means by which they fill it. That the child is now attending a Catholic school is not the point: it is the fact that the family has a reasonable expectation to get into a school closer to home (though it is idiotic that the child then has to learn Catholic doctrine for far longer per week than she learns science or languages)

      1. newsjustin

        “it is the fact that the family has a reasonable expectation to get into a school closer to home”
        Why is it reasonable to insist that your child goes to a school within walking distance? It’s an ideal scenario, yes. But I’d guess less than 50% of children are really within walking distance to their school. And those are kids whose parents didn’t leave it till the last minute to apply for a place.

        1. ReproBertie

          Well if you’re guessing then there’s no arguing with those figures.

          What’s the point of catchment areas if not to ensure that people can go to a nearby school? How do you define walking distance?

        2. donkey_kong

          the father had to give up his job? That is laughable, many parents including myself have to go to work before their kids even get up not mind before they go to school.

          can he not – get his wife to bring the daughter to school (the wife is on the scene based on photos in the media)
          or employ a childminder / creche / breakfast club etc… like many irish do.

          it just seems he is upset they didn’t get the school of their choice.
          That’s unfortunate but we all get disappointment in stages in life.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            “can he not – get his wife to bring the daughter to school (the wife is on the scene based on photos in the media) or employ a childminder / creche / breakfast club etc… like many irish do.”

            Yeah, can’t think of any reasons why they couldn’t do either of these things….

          2. donkey_kong

            don , where were your crocodile tears for the 1000’s of Irish who balance their lives around a family schedule..or is it just because they’re non-privileged.
            should I check mine?

            But humour me , give me a reason and tell me when it applies to them and not to anybody else. otherwise that is life.

          3. donkey_kong

            Don ,
            i’m a reasonable person.

            you aren’t contributing much with you half witted put downs and one liners.
            but we are where we are…

          4. Don Pidgeoni

            Judging from that response, you are not.

            It’s even more ridiculous because I am one of the more left leaning people on here so would totally be behind anyone who was having trouble with any social issue.

            But go on, judge me some more, you seem to enjoy it.

        3. nellyb

          The fact is parents must put their child on a waiting list at the time the child is born for a chance of getting a school place. 4 years in advance.
          While it is a public knowledge among locals, it is not at all obvious to immigrant parents. Many fell into that trap. And it is not something Department of Education would advertise. May be they do in some convoluted way in some obscure place.
          It’s even worse for immigrants who accepted a job offer in Ireland and arrived with young pre-school aged children.
          Employers and IDA must include this info into their information pack, so people with kids can weigh the risks and potentially leave the child back home until a place in Irish school is offered. Or reject the job.

          1. ReproBertie

            Well let’s look at that shall we. The family in the case got a school place within just a few weeks. Neighbours of ours returned from abroad during the summer and got a school place for their 5 year old with no difficulty. We started to apply for school places for our 4 year old last January (schools told us to come back later when we tried the previous October) and were offered two. As it happens, not one child from her pre-school had a problem getting a school place and I know of none of those who were signed up from birth. All of these incidents happened in Dublin.

            Now, I realise anecdotes aren’t evidence so feel free to counter my arguments with some evidence of it being a fact in most places in Dublin.

          2. nellyb

            ReproBertie – I don’t have the statistic, no, it’s what people I know gone through in Dublin over the past 15 years. Bear in mind – it takes time for freshly arrived foreigners to get their head around our “system”. By the time the picture emerges, the school year starts. And that is on top of finding a place to live, register with revenue, understand how to get places with our underdeveloped public transport, giving up and buying a car, getting up to speed with your job, etc… If you ever lived abroad with your family, you’d have an idea how much time it takes to understand the system.
            Deficiencies must be acknowledged, analysed and intelligently changed over time. Feeling secretly insulted by them foreigners pointing this out is not a way to go.

          3. ReproBertie

            Moving to a new country is difficult =/= it’s a fact in most of Dublin that children must be on waiting lists for schools from birth.

          4. Paolo

            That’s not a fact. The fact is that if parents register interest in a school then the school will notify them when the applications for junior infants will be accepted. This usually no more than 1 year in advance. If you try to apply more than 1year in advance, the school will send you packing.

      2. John

        …he gave up his job ? Really ?? FFS.

        I hope he doesn’t think he can now apply for dole etc because of it – and if he does, he should be denied it.
        My daughter takes 50 minutes on a bus to get to school – and he’s whinging about 30 mins ? Get a life.

          1. nellyb

            This discussion regressed to sulking, falsely patriotic defense of severely outdated system versus developing modern society.
            I am waiting till the same folks will start defending our current lethal health service. Ain’t same thing, but very very similar.

      3. ollie

        No. The point is that the school IS full. The criteria for deciding who gets in and who doesn’t is important, but enough places = no admissions policy.

  4. Slugger

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but it’s my understanding that schools ARE permitted to discriminate on a religious basis. Now, the majority of people here may disagree with that, but it is the law.

    For my two cents, I think that this is less a matter of discrimination than the right to freedom of association.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “but it is the law”

      The point here is that it shouldn’t be.

      “I think that this is less a matter of discrimination than the right to freedom of association.”


  5. Anne

    Could they have converted?
    Like if you weren’t blessed enough to receive the gift of Catholicism at birth, will they take you in later on?
    What if you said you were a convert at heart? Would that do it?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      …come to think of it. Hindu belief says that all religions stem from their original. So, on a technical note, he could argue that as Hindu, he’s also Christian/ Catholic.

      Wouldn’t I love to start arguing that point just to pish of those schools. I would yeah, but I’ve no kids…. so cannot be arsed.

  6. Joxer

    he should have had her baptised and it would have been grand. makes not a whit of difference – either the catholics filling her head with nonsense of the Hindu’s….its all the same rubbish

    1. Joxer

      “either the catholics filling her head with nonsense of the Hindu’s” should be “either the catholics filling her head with nonsense or the Hindu’s”

      Broadsheet can we have an edit button or similar?

    1. ahyeah

      We have excellent state schools. And an excellent state school system. This is a huge negative, obviously, but it doesn’t make the entire system sh1t.

  7. Demon

    When are we going insisting that school take children on the basis of how close they live to the school, like civilised countries?

    1. newsjustin

      That would not solve everyone’s problems and likely create new ones.

      We would immediately see a whole cohort of parents who are not happy (for any number of reasons) with the local school they happen to be closest to and who want their child to go elsewhere.

      1. Demon

        In other countries, people move house to be close to the school they want.

        It’s much better for children to go to school within walking distance. It means that their circle of friends live near them, that they can play and study together, that their social circle generally between adults and children is local. Good for all kinds of reasons.

        1. Paolo

          That’s what I did. Panniker moved house but his daughter’s education was way down the list of priorities when he chose where to live.

    2. Don Pidgeoni

      When the state has full control of schools without the church fannying about with them and discriminating against children. Because, let’s call a spade a spade here. There would be uproar if it was the other way around.

  8. chicken

    I absolutely agree, that religion should not be considered in schools at all. This is what church, parents, social clubs should be for.
    However, he admits that he applied late for the daughter to attend, so regardless of religion she still may not have gotten a place in the school.
    I don’t think this is a winning battle.

    1. Demon

      “Applied late” meaning not putting your kid down for the local nash when it’s only an amoebal gleam in its daddy’s eye?

      1. Paolo

        No, he moved house when she should have been starting school and never researched the school situation.

  9. ollie

    The school in question uses this critera:
    Catholic children of the parish get first priority, followed by siblings of current pupils, then children of staff, then siblings of pupils in a sister school and finally “non-Catholic children of the parish”.

    So, if the girl is question was catholic and the schools was oversubscribed (which it was), she still wouldn’t get a place.
    At the risk of repeating myself: Successive governments have failed our children by not investing enough money in our education system
    Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana all spend more per captia on primary education than Ireland.

  10. Demon

    And by the way, this is the Church that said it was too poor to pay compensation to its victims raped by its priests – claiming that all its priests and nuns were now aged creatures in need of the few meagre pennies it had to scrape together to support them. But now it’s throwing its weight around saying that it owns the schools?

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      It’s almost like they are being devious little liars or something. I thought that’s a sin?

    2. ollie

      It’s not the fault of the church that our illustrious past leaders, DeValera et al, were more than happy to pass responsibility for education and health to the religious orders while they lived the high life and watched the citizens of Ireland living in poverty.
      And next year we celebrate the lives of these pompous idiots: Pearse x 2, Dev, and the rest of the elitist brigade replaced today by Noonan, Shatter, etc.

  11. pedeyw

    There’s way too much obfustication and goalpost moving going on. This little girl was denied a place in school because the school was oversubscribed and she was not a catholic, both of which are wrong. No other excuses matter. School should not be forced into a situation where they choose who gets in and who doesn’t based on religion. Build more schools, hire more teachers and get religion out of the education system.

    1. Paolo

      Agree but would add the caveat that her parents failed her too. There will always be limited resources and her parents did nothing to improve her chances when they moved to a new area without putting in the leg work first.

    1. Dubh Linn

      Wtf are you on about? What “state” are you on about. This is an Irish news site. Do you understand that? Most schools are paid for by the taxpayer.

  12. Paolo

    Religion should have no place in state schools but the Pannikers were discriminated against because they didn’t bother sorting out schools before moving house. I moved house in 2007 to an area where I was confident of getting my unborn children a spot. My two boys (of no religion and born in 2011 and 2012) are both accepted into the local school now.

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