Category: Education

Making Ireland Great Again: or at least a bit better

Larger budgets are frequently demanded by public institutions as a prerequisite for development and reform. Yet in many cases much can be achieved without any additional funding, and sometimes with less, provided leadership has the courage to shake things up, redeploying existing resources, amend the law…. or just be bloody-minded.  Some examples.

HEALTH

The Irish health system has been ranked as the least efficient of the OECD’s 24 countries[1]. From the report it can be deduced that the Irish health budget could be cut by some €4 bn if OECD average efficiencies were achieved and by over €5 … Continue reading...

Teacher unions frustrate reform of Irish education

Over the years the Irish teacher unions have demonstrated a remarkable ability to improve pay and conditions for their members. Periodic threats of industrial action, backed up with the possibility of an escalation to the ‘nuclear option’ (refusing to mark the Junior or Leaving Certificate examinations) have consistently won the day. As a result Irish post-primary teachers are now amongst the best paid in Europe and enjoy the developed world’s shortest working year : their schools remain closed for 198 days annually .
Having so successfully pursued their legitimate mandate, related to pay and conditions, teacher unions are now attempting … Continue reading...

Reforming Irish University Governance

Background
Once most of the world’s best universities were in Europe
• Governing board members drawn from within
• Many board members
• Rectors and Deans elected
Now they are in the US
• Governing board composed of external members almost exclusively
• Limited number of board members
• Corporate approach to governance and management
• President and Deans appointed
European Governance Trends
• Influenced by US
• External membership of governing boards increasing
• Corporate approach to governance and management being introduced
European Reform
Denmark and Finland have led the way with radical reform of university governance.
In 2003 … Continue reading...

School-based Assessment: Deemphasising the Leaving Certificate

Ed Walsh

The startling rate at which the Irish school system is falling behind was highlighted in last December’s OECD’s PISA report
• In a decade reading levels in Ireland have dropped from 5th to 17th.
• 23 per cent of male teenagers are functionally illiterate.
• In only three years Ireland’s math ranking has dropped from 16th to 26th place

Also multinational heavyweights, such as Craig Barrett of Intel, John Herlihy of Google and Ray Stata of Analog Devices are no longer lauding the Irish educational system. They are doing otherwise and speaking frankly of its serious deficiencies. They … Continue reading...

Reforming Irish Education

Ed Walsh

The Celtic Tiger success of the 1990s was built on high-tech manufacturing. While this is still important for Ireland there has been a steady shift in activity and job creation towards knowledge-base service enterprise. Products, rather than being exported on trucks, now more usually travel over the internet.
Competition in the knowledge economy is a global race for talent. The talent required is different to that which won races in the industrial economy. As a result competitor countries have been taking radical action to transform their educational systems. Ireland has not. Its international rankings, especially those of its … Continue reading...

13 Steps to Reform Irish Education

1. Secularise and reform the education of primary teachers: more civics, science, math and modern languages.
2. Limit places in teacher education, making it an elite profession from which all but the most suitable are excluded
3. Upgrade the performance of existing teachers by boosting in-service education undertaken outside school hours and between terms
4. Increase the length of the school/college year to the EU average and reduce holidays to new public sector norms
5. Introduce rigorous teacher/faculty member assessment and link outcomes to award of annual increments
6. Publish separate competitiveness school rankings within disadvantaged and other categories
7. … Continue reading...

My Education Week at Limerick, January 1970

Since 1845, when Limerick failed to get one of the Queen’s Colleges that went to Cork and Galway, a campaign for a university in Limerick simmered. Eventually in the 1960s it flared into a boisterous national campaign organised by the Limerick University Project Committee (LUPC). After the tragic death of Limerick’s flamboyant Minister for Education, Donogh O’Malley in 1968 the government yielded, but refused to establish a constituent college of the NUI in the image of Cork or Galway; instead an institute of higher education was announced. While mention was made of ‘Ireland’s MIT’ and parallels were drawn with the … Continue reading...

Reforming Irish Education

Reforming Irish education: the challenge for the next minister

Edward Walsh

Spending more does not necessarily mean that schools become better; in fact they sometimes become worse.  During the past decade
Britain increased school funding by 21 percent and the US by 37 percent, yet
standards slipped in both countries.[1]   In Ireland’s case the bad outcome is even more dramatic.  In the past decade funding
per student [2]  was increased in real terms by 61 percent[3]
yet performance decreased by 15 percent[4].  This disconcerting news was further reinforced before Christmas when the international ranking for Ireland’s

Continue reading...

New Contract for Teachers

A NEW CONTRACT
FOR TEACHERS

Edward Walsh

The McCarthy report comes in two volumes.  Volume 1 provides the broad brush strokes,
Volume 2 the details as to how €5.3bn of flab can be cut from the Irish public
sector in a full year.

The McCarthy team found good reason to scrutinise the €6bn
annual expenditure of the Irish school system. It discovered surprising work
practices and a plethora of special payments made to teachers that are unique
to Ireland.
As a result annual savings amounting to a substantial €425 million were
identified. Teacher unions reacted predictably and trotted out their … Continue reading...

Export Education

International education: addressing Ireland’s shortcomings

Ireland’s reputation as a quality location for international study leaves much to be desired: as a result it is failing to take advantage of quite a special opportunity.  Why special?  Because international students are increasingly seeking out English-speaking countries, and, of course, the only two options available in Europe are the UK or Ireland.

But the UK is winning hands down.  It is one of the world’s most sought after locations. Over 300,000 international students are enrolled in the UK and spend some €5 billion a year there. The British Council sees international education as … Continue reading...