Four in 10 adults have trouble with everyday maths
Published 06/09/2010 | 05:00
THE Government was last night accused of failing to deliver on its promise of a 'smart economy' after it emerged that 40pc of adults have trouble with everyday maths.
New research, conducted by the National Adult Literacy Agency, found that four out of 10 people could not correctly answer two maths questions from the primary school curriculum and four basic calculations.
They got either half or all of the six questions wrong during the survey, which involved 1,000 participants and was carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne.
The revelations come as concern mounts over the continued poor performance of students in maths in the Leaving Cert. A worrying 10pc of students who took ordinary level maths this year failed the exam.
In total, more than 4,000 students failed at different levels of Leaving Cert maths -- a result that sparked intense criticism from business leaders over maths and science education.
Education Minister Mary Coughlan has insisted that there will be an incentive for maths in place by 2012 with the introduction of bonus points.
But the plan could be blown away by opposition from academic institutions such as University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway.
The research showed that education levels emerged as the strongest factor in determining the correct response to the questions.
Those who left formal education at primary level were most likely to struggle with numeracy. Those who completed third-level education were most at ease with the questions.
Men performed better than women overall, but age did not appear to be a strong factor in determining numerical ability.
Last night, Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd insisted that the figures were a shocking reflection of the Government's track record in maths education.
"The figures are a clear indication that the Government is failing to deliver on its many promises to create a smart economy," said Mr O'Dowd.
"The Tanaiste must confirm her commitment to introducing bonus points for maths in 2012.
"If we are to improve the current situation, we need to ensure that a greater number of maths teachers have maths as a subject in their final year of study."
The National Literacy Agency pointed out that mathematical competence was an essential life skill required by all adults and argued that a national approach was required to improve the level of mathematical achievement.
The agency's Clare McNally insisted that, before the Government delivered on its promise of a smart economy, it first had to help people improve their basic maths skills.