Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has said that he would like to see more time devoted to science and maths in Irish schools, rather than Irish and religion.
"The official time allocation for religion and Irish is high relative to other subjects," he said.
"Am I personally concerned by that? Yes I am. But this is a choice that parents and teachers and the patrons of schools have to make.
"That's why we've asked for the divestment by the Catholic church of many of the primary schools that they currently have."
A new international study has found that Irish primary school students scored above the average in reading, maths and science.
However, we failed to make it into the top performing countries in any of the three - particularly maths and science.
Ireland was ranked 10th in reading out of 45 countries; 17th in maths out of 50 countries; and 22nd in science out of 50 countries.