It is the duty of the Government of a civilised country that the children have a very good Primary Education. There is no guarantee that the children will continue on to Secondary or Third level, so it is important that when they leave school at post Primary level they have sufficient skills in literacy and numeracy that should they decide later to return to College, they can pick up where they left off.
For quite a number of years there have been reports of a high percentage of Primary school leavers who are almost completely devoid of those skills. This limits their range of job finding. I did mention in a previous letter what a retired Secondary school teacher told me of the difficulty that some of the new entrants to Secondary level had with Maths and Science because they had not been properly prepared at Primary level. I am surprised that the Government is not acknowledging this fact and doing something about it.
Teachers Unions complain that there is a shortage of teachers. I believe that there is a shortage of good teachers who are capable of imparting their knowledge and expertise to the pupils, no matter what the size of the class is. As children advance through the grades, the addition of bonus marks is no substitute for lack of knowledge. The use of electronic educational devices at Primary level is foolhardy, as it does not teach the pupil the practical way of doing things. Is it any wonder that we have such a poor quality Civil Service and even a series of asinical Finance Ministers.
There is plenty of blather about the necessity to improve pupils Maths and Science skills but no positive action. The abolition of Junior Certificate Exam is being discussed. Exams are like inspections where the frailties of the pupils, the teachers, and the Education system in general is exposed and give the opportunity to put remedies in place. A few years ago the lack of frequent inspections caused the collapse of the Malahide Viaduct and only pure luck avoided a serious tragedy.
For years we have been doctoring the Education system and allowing substandard people to occupy vital positions. When this occurs in the Public Sector the culprit is protected by some Trade Union agreement and the mess continues.
The recent Government attempt to solve this problem by offering generous early retirement terms was a fiasco. There was no substandard individual going to give up a permanent job when his chances of obtaining another one would be slim, even if he pocketed a bucketful of money. It was like manna from Heaven or a truck scattering its goods along the road to those with the ability who took advantage and would have no difficulty in being re-employed.
The real consequences are that the Governments solution stripped the Departments of the brightest and best leaving the second bests to run the show. If the best allowed us to get into the present mess, our future does not look rosy with those.
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