Education Minister Quinn promises ‘radical education reform’

14 Sep 2011

Regina Moran, CEO, Fujitsu; Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills; and Imelda Reynolds, president, Dublin Chamber of Commerce

Ireland’s Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has called for radical reform of the education system with a new structure that moves away from the outmoded by-rote system to one that recognises 21st-century critical and creative thinking.

The much-needed education system reform will begin with the Junior Cert and may eventually extend to reforming the outmoded points system for third level.

Congratulating the 57,000 Junior Cert Students who received their results today, Quinn said: “The educational journey starts in pre-school but as a result of the points system, creative thinking is replaced by memory recall.

“I hope that radical reform of the Junior Certificate will start in 2012, with a reformed exam in place by 2015.”

Irish students spend more time on religion than science

Quinn’s comments come in the wake of another OECD report that reveals problems in the teaching of maths in Ireland.

The OECD study found that Irish nine to 11-year-olds spend only 12pc of their time on maths compared with the OECD average of 16pc.

Not only that, but the OECD report reveals that Irish students spend more time studying religion than science.

The OECD study shows that Irish nine to 11-year-olds spend 4pc of their tuition time on science – less than half the OECD average of 9pc – but spend 10pc of their time on religion, double the OECD average of 4pc.

Quinn said this morning that despite the OECD Education at a Glance report’s findings, there is good news in the increase in students studying science.

“I am very pleased to see that the number of students taking higher-level science has increased again this year, with over 2,500 more students taking the paper compared to last year.

“I would encourage all of these students to continue studying science in the senior cycle.

The minister also welcomed the increase in the number of students taking higher-level maths and, in particular, the number of students opting to take the higher-level paper in the Project Maths pilot schools.

“Increasing the uptake at higher level is one of the explicit aims of Project Maths and this initial indication of increased uptake by students in the pilot schools is very welcome,” Quinn said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years