IVEA welcomes proposals for reforming Junior Cycle education
The announcement today by Minister Ruairí Quinn of a major overhaul of the Junior Cycle education has been broadly welcomed by IVEA as a vital step towards ensuring that our young people have the opportunity to acquire the skills and competences essential to making the most of their lives – in the family, in the community and in the workplace.
According to IVEA General Secretary, Michael Moriarty:
The changes announced by the Minister will, if appropriately implemented, facilitate a transformation of teaching and learning that will enable students to engage enthusiastically and critically with the curriculum, to make their own of what they learn rather than simply learning off the thoughts of others, and to become lifelong learners capable of learning effectively across the whole of their lives, rather than merely learning in order to achieve exam success and then forgetting all about what has been learned.
In a world where change is the only constant, the key to individuals and nations maintaining cohesion and prosperity is the capacity to adapt continuously to changed circumstances. More than anything else, our schools must turn out lifelong learners.
The proposal to focus teaching and learning on the acquisition of skills and competences rather than on knowledge and content is both welcome and essential.
Doing away with the Junior Certificate as a terminal high-stakes examination, where the whole focus of junior cycle education is on the exam, should make it possible for students to engage more with their teachers and with curriculum.
Revised syllabuses should be more appropriate to the reality of 21st century life and the information age, and proposed short courses in areas such as digital media, entrepreneurship, sustainable living, and Chinese language and culture, may be expected to make the school experience more evidently relevant to the world we live in. The option for schools to design their own short courses will enable schools to respond to local needs – something the current curriculum does not allow for.
It can only be a good thing that the reforms will provide for students and their parents getting a fuller picture of learners’ progress than has been the case up to now.
‘While there is much to welcome in today’s announcement,’ continued Mr Moriarty, ‘implementing the Minister’s plan is going to pose real challenges for all the partners in education, not least the announcement that teachers would mark their own students’ Junior Certificate examination scripts. We now know where we are going and it is important that all partners, especially management, unions and the DES sit down together, without prejudice, to work out how the goals that the Minister has clearly set for reforming Junior Cycle education can be achieved.’
‘In many respects,‘ concluded Mr Moriarty, ‘Ireland finds itself at a crossroads, and the reform of our school system is a key piece in ensuring that we take the road to prosperity and cohesion. Hopefully, we can all go down this road together.’