A youth group which works with educationally disadvantaged children has today welcomed comments by the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin to reform the Leaving Certificate.
Youth Work Ireland has long been calling for the radical overhaul of the exam system, particularly to combat early school leaving.
“Now, more than ever, people see the need for the reform of this major element of the educational system,” Michael Mc Loughlin of Youth Work Ireland said.
“Many do well out of the Leaving Certificate, but the enormous build up of pressure coupled with our persistent high drop out rates must spur on the reform process.
“The minister is right to keep this issue on the agenda but a reform only to the timing of certain papers is not enough.
“There is a need for a much wider debate involving continuous assessment, credit systems, team working, critical thinking and industry linkage,” he said.
“Young people should be involved in any reform process through student councils and education centres outside the mainstream such as Youth Reach Centres and Community Training Workshops.”
The Labour Party this morning attacked the Government’s failure to restructure the system branding it as cruel to pupils.
“It is simply unacceptable that pupils doing the Leaving Certificate today should, for instance, be asked to spend six hours and ten minutes handwriting answers to questions on the English paper,” the party’s education spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said.
“A pupil taking English, Maths, Irish and Geography will be asked to spend 19 hours and 10 minutes spread over the first four days responding to very challenging exam papers.
“This sort of timetable is at best placing pupils under extreme pressure and at worst subjecting them to wanton cruelty.”