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RIA Expresses Concern Regarding Second Level Science Cutbacks


news 15 September 20104:48


Date of Release: 15 September 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Royal Irish Academy welcomes the Government’s continued commitment to sustaining a high level of investment in R&D despite the present challenging economic climate and supports the Government’s repeated emphasis on the need to create a “smart economy” built on technological innovation and high skill levels in the sciences and engineering.

The Academy, like others, recognises that a key element in underpinning this ambitious goal is the breadth and vibrancy of science education at second level. Unfortunately, growing numbers of students are not taking any science subject at second level, as science is not a mandatory subject at junior cycle. Recent cutbacks in funding provision have negatively impacted on the teaching and learning of science at second level, as a recent survey carried out on behalf of the ASTI has highlighted.

That fourteen percent of schools surveyed dropped a science subject from the curriculum in the past school year as a direct result of the cutbacks, and that a further twenty percent indicated they may drop a science subject this year, with physics the most likely victim, is clearly a matter of the utmost concern. Indeed, the Institute of Physics in Ireland has called the situation “a national emergency”.

This disturbing trend runs contrary to the Government’s stated objective of improving the mathematical and scientific literacy of second-level students in its Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal and risks compromising the pipeline of well-qualified scientists and technologists on which the Country’s future economic prospects are so crucially predicated. It also sends the wrong message to international investors and the multi-national sector. The Academy welcomes the decision by the T├ínaiste and Minister for Education & Skills, Mrs Mary Coughlan, to commence the roll out of the Project Maths programme of reform in all second level schools this autumn and calls for similar urgency in relation to the sciences, particularly physics and chemistry.

The Academy, accordingly, urges the Government to remedy what is tantamount to a haemorrhage in the on-going supply of skilled scientists by a strategy of additional support for the teaching of the physical sciences at second level, including an exemption from the present embargo on the filling of science teacher posts for this category of teacher. It is axiomatic that positioning Ireland at the forefront of the smart economies of the future will require greatly increased emphasis on science education, not least at second level.

Further Information:

Caoimhe Graham, Communications & Marketing Assistant, Royal Irish Academy
Phone: 01 6090635 or 087 7751747
Email: c.grahamat

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