Speaking at the TUI conference in Ennis earlier today, Minister for Education Mary Coughlan recommended the re-introduction of bonus points for honours level maths as a part of the innovation nation strategy.
“They know the time and effort versus reward matrix associated with taking honours maths in the context of the CAO points system,” said Coughlan.
“While I will await and consider the views of the expert group, it is my view at this point that we could send a clear signal to our second-level student population with the introduction of a CAO points bonus for achievement in Leaving Certificate maths. Ireland, to succeed in our ambition as the innovation island, must not be shy in targeting any skills gap we identify in our labour force.
“It is clear that maths is somewhere we could do better, so it is important that we embrace that challenge and take steps to right the situation,” she added.
High-tech sector’s response to Coughlan
ICT Ireland said that the recommendation was welcomed by the high-tech sector and was something the organisation had been calling for these past few years.
“The reintroduction of bonus points will send a clear signal to national and international industry leaders that Ireland is serious about developing a smart economy.
"Higher-level maths provides students with key skills needed for the high-tech jobs Ireland is working to attract. The opportunity of achieving bonus points will encourage more students to take the course.”
Interestingly, this call for bonus points stands in contrast to a recent research report from the University of Limerick, titled Out-of-Field Teaching in Post-Primary Mathematics Education: An Analysis of the Irish Context, which found that 48pc of post-primary teachers of mathematics in Irish schools “did not have a mathematics teaching qualification”.
Meanwhile, Coughlan told attendees at the TUI conference that €3bn in cuts to public services would be required from next year.
By Marie Boran
Photo: Minister for Education Mary Coughlan