A 71-year-old grandmother is one of some 2,700 students celebrating Junior Certificate results in Limerick yesterday.
Pamela Noonan, from O’Malley Park, said she was “over the moon” when she opened her envelope at the Further Education and Training Centre on O’Connell Avenue.
“I left school very young, I was about 11. I had no education really because in those days you didn’t get an education, you had to go out to work if you were able to. It didn’t matter what you could do, you had to go out to work to earn money.”
A grandmother of 14, she is determined to continue with her studies. “I would give anything before I die to do my Leaving Cert. I don’t know if I am foolish or not but I would love to do it, “ Pamela said.
Other mature students who completed their Junior Certificate in one year at Limerick Adult Education on Sexton St were either early school leavers, foreign nationals, or had no qualifications in Ireland until now.
Harold Conway, 61, left school in 1966 and now hopes to continue on to do his Leaving Certificate and maybe go on to third level.
“As the years go by I felt I missed out on something. I had the opportunity to go back and I found it enlightening to further my brain activity. And as the years progress you need to keep it active,” Harold said.
Some teachers working in adult education have sounded a note of caution of the impact of the impending reform of the Junior Certificate cycle on mature learners.
“For adult education the reforms won’t work because we do the Junior Cert in one year here,” said Margaret Heffernan, assistant co-ordinator at Limerick Adult Education Centre.
“We will have to do more QQI qualifications instead. It’s a shame because there is great continuity between the Junior Cert and the Leaving Cert, and the Junior Cert programme has worked so well for students here.”
English teacher Gabrielle Tarpey, of Limerick Adult Education Centre, believes the Leaving Certificate is in much more need of reform than the Junior Cert cycle.
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