Concern over numbers attaining high maths grades

16 Aug 2006

ICT Ireland, the association representing the technology sector within IBEC, has expressed concern about the numbers achieving As in honours maths and the low numbers taking the subject.

Just 16pc of the students who sat their Leaving Certificate this year chose honours maths, a slight decline from 17pc in 2005. Kathryn Raleigh, director of ICT Ireland, expressed disappointment at the figures. “While this is not a dramatic drop, we were disappointed that the numbers choosing honours maths has not increased,” she said.

There was further concern about the numbers of students attaining the highest grades, A1 and A2 in maths, although overall the number of students achieving a C3 or higher in the subject increased.

“Ireland needs its young people to have an excellent grasp of higher maths and science if we are to continue to attract high-level jobs in the ICT sector, as well as growing strong Irish-owned technology companies,” said Raleigh. She acknowledged that honours level maths is a difficult subject and called for students to receive incentives to take these subjects at a higher level for their final-year exams.

There were mixed results from the science field, with physics students showing a marginal drop to 14.4pc from 14.7pc last year. More students took chemistry this year; 13.9pc compared to 13.6pc in 2005. Science-centric subjects fared poorly against the humanities, however, with 51pc of students taking French and 45pc choosing geography.

ICT Ireland called on industry and the Government to make efforts to support and encourage students in taking science and honours maths. “Technology, science and maths will become ever more important in terms of our ability to compete for knowledge jobs,” Raleigh said.

By Gordon Smith