Irish pupils hindered by lack of teachers and poor technology, says international report

Irish pupils hindered by lack of teachers and poor technology, says international report

Almost 45% of Irish students are in schools where principals reported a lack of teachers, and more than half struggled with access to technology. File picture

More than four-in-ten Irish students are in schools where principals reported learning was hindered by a lack of teachers, and many feel schools here could be better served when it comes to digital infrastructure.

The findings come from the latest round of analysis carried out on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

The tests, which measure how well 15-year-old students are performing in reading, maths, and science, are conducted every three years. The data provided was collected in 2018.

However, PISA 2018 Results: Effective Policies, Successful Schools, published this week, focuses on the policies and practices used in the education systems of the 79 participating countries. It found:

  • Almost 45% of Irish students were in schools where principals reporting instruction was hindered, to some extent or a lot, by a lack of teachers;
  • Almost 57% of Irish students were in schools where the principal strongly agreed the number of digital devices connected to the internet was sufficient, compared to the OECD average of 67.2%;
  • Almost 45% of Irish students were in a school where principals reported instruction was hindered to some extent or by a lot due to a lack of physical infrastructure, such as buildings, grounds, heating, or lighting.

The latest data reflects the "significant negative effects for students of the continuing failure to appropriately resource Irish schools". That's according to Michael Gillespie, general secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI). 

"Irish teachers and lecturers have demonstrated remarkable flexibility throughout the national health emergency, providing a first-class education service to learners of all abilities despite the public education system being chronically under-resourced by international standards. Now more than ever, with a range of current and future challenges, an adequately-funded education system must be seen as central to the country’s future." 

Ann Piggott, the president of the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland, said the OECD report has confirmed many of the claims about under-investment in education. She said Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of infrastructure and digital learning. 

"The Government must prioritise funding for education in the October budget to upgrade school buildings and facilities so as to ensure that students and staff are protected and that every school has the capacity to revert to partial or full remote learning during this pandemic." 

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