Urgent clarity is needed on the plans for the State exams during the current pandemic as the current “complete vacuum of information” is leaving young people stressed and distracted.
That is according to the Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon who has called for a decision to be made on the Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations.
With exams due to begin in less than two months’ time, young people are currently anxious due to the uncertainty of how the exams will operate given the current Covid-19 crisis.
“One of the things that people crave when they are anxious is certainty,” Dr Muldoon said.
“It is that certainty I am calling for – whatever the decision, make it clear and give it as soon as possible.”
The Government and the Department of Education and Skills find themselves in difficult circumstances due to the current public health crisis, he added.
“However, students have been left too long without answers about what will happen in relation to State exams.”
He said as recently as Wednesday, the Government again advised young people to stay focused and to continue to study.
"This advice may be well intended but the reality is that many students cannot simply continue to study in the current circumstances," he said.
"Many do not have access to the online classes and support being offered, some are living in cramped environments not suitable for study and others are helping to care for younger siblings while parents go out to work or, on Government orders, work from home."
Dr Muldoon said he supports moves to give students at least two weeks back at school before exams begin, and would encourage a longer period of time to make up for the two months they’’ve lost.
A decision on the State exams is likely to made tomorrow. However, it depends on the recommendations made by the Emergency Public Health team.
A recent survey by the Irish Second Level Students’’ Union (ISSU) found the majority of Leaving Cert students’’ preferred solution would be to cancel the exams and bring in a system of predicted grades.