Monday 26 September 2016

Education system is not in tune with our children's needs

Published 17/04/2015 | 02:30

Primary school
Primary school
We need to take schooling back into our own hands, not for its own sake, but for our children’s sake

I have just come across the curriculum for a Dublin girls' school. It includes English, French and Italian, history, geography, writing and arithmetic, planets and elements of astronomy, music, dance, art and needle work. Fees are £21 a year for day pupils. A preparatory class for pupils under 10 includes English, French, writing, arithmetic and dance. There's only one vacation: the month of July.

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Mrs Morgan's School, at 15 Upper Temple Street in Dublin, offers all of this in an advertisement in the 'Dublin Morning Register', dated April 8, 1833.

Mrs Morgan had to compete with other schools offering similar choices.

With a small twist, if latter-day parents were given vouchers by the State and allowed to shop around for the schools of their choice, we could empower parents, rather than vested interests.

We have been in the EU for decades, yet there's not a single European mainland language taught in our national schools, restricting our emigrants to Anglophone countries.

My grandsons recently moved to Quebec, which is predominantly Roman Catholic. The day begins at 8.00am and they have five hours more than us in school each week.

Since religious indoctrination has no place in their schools (it's provided for in 'Sunday school' for those who want it) this frees up at least another 2.5 hours. Mandarin (Chinese) is optional. Every second day, classes are conducted entirely through French - a scheme we could well copy here with the Irish language.

Ireland is the only member of the OECD which has surrendered control over most of our schooling to the agents of a church - a foreign state.

This managerial system is indifferent to costs, to efficiency and even removed from, or in conflict with, our educational needs.

Religion doesn't butter the turnips. We need to take schooling back into our own hands, not for its own sake, but for our children's sake.

John Colgan

Leixlip, Co Kildare


Airport in honour of Lemass

The year 2015 is the 75th anniversary of Dublin Airport. It is widely acknowledged that Seán Lemass was the main driving force in the development of this airport and the setting up of Aer Lingus in 1936, and its transatlantic services in 1958. His name will always be synonymous with Irish aviation.

In October 1973, former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave unveiled a plaque at Dublin Airport in memory of Lemass, where he spoke of "Lemass's inspired formation of our national airline, at a time when civil aviation was generally considered to be a speculative adventure".

The Dublin people regarded Lemass as a true patriot and statesman. Between 1924 and 1965, he contested 14 general elections in Dublin, in which he was elected on the first count in all, exceeding the quota. This is surely an enormous endorsement of how warmly he was regarded. On the 75th anniversary of Dublin Airport, I submit it is timely and appropriate to rename it 'Sean Lemass Airport' and follow the examples of airports worldwide, like JFK, (New York), Charles de Gaulle (Paris) and John Foster Dulles (Washington).

Tom Beary

Raheny, Dublin 5


Maintenance of war graves

Anthony Carey (Irish Independent, Letters, April 15) rightly praises the members of the Ypres fire brigade who play 'The Last Post' at the Menin Gate every evening at 8pm.

The simple ceremony is beautiful and intensely moving. However, I would like to mention that the maintenance and management of the Menin Gate is the responsibility, not of the Belgian Government, but of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is funded by the Governments of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The Belgian government donated the land on which the war cemeteries and monuments stand. "Well done, Belgium" certainly, but well done CWGC as well.

Brian Anthony

Kinlough, Co Leitrim


McAleese and the Church

I refer to the article by John Downing, 'I will vote Yes in same-sex marriage poll - McAleese' (Irish Independent, April 14, 2015)

Mr Downing is reporting on an interview Ms McAleese gave from Notre Dame University, Indiana, US, to Newstalk Radio's George Hook. Mr Downing refers to Ms McAleese as follows: "Ms McAleese, who is known for her strong Catholic faith but has also challenged the church authorities on occasion."

Mr Downing is known for the excellence of his reporting, but in dealing with matters ecclesiastical, he is clearly at sea. Catholicism is not a DIY religion. Whether defined infallibly or not, a Catholic is required, under pain of automatic excommunication, to accept authentic Church teaching [Code of Canon Law (1983), Canons 750; 751; 1364 §1].

Everyone is required to follow a certain judgment of his/her conscience. Sometimes, to do so can leave one outside the Catholic Church. Ms McAleese is known for her rejection of the teaching of the Catholic Church on a number of issues. She received communion in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Dublin City in 2001. The Church of Ireland doesn't believe in the Real Presence, and it is wrong for Catholics to receive communion in an Anglican service.

Ms McAleese doesn't accept the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality or the non-ordination of women. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a document entitled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)' 2003, said it is 'gravely immoral' to vote for same-sex unions.

Richard Greene

Chairman, Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage


Dublin Bus running out of road

Like David McWilliams (Irish Independent, April 15) I frequently use Dublin Bus - for me, it is to visit my aunt in Walkinstown, Dublin. The bus carries many retired people and not a vast amount of paying customers. This route would not be a profitable service to run, it is rather a socially necessary service. The contrast with the tram could not be more stark.

The tram company was awarded the contract to run two lines through the most concentrated population centres in the State, while public money pays for the loss-making bus routes.

When I am on a packed tram I can't help but be reminded of the profits going to the shareholders of this private company; but where there is a loss to be made, public money will do fine to plug the hole. This scenario is like the banks.

In the good times, the profits rolled in for their shareholders and bondholders; when the bad times arrived, public money was and is being diverted from all sorts of critical social services to keep the show on the road.

John Sullivan

Rathmines, Dublin 6

Irish Independent

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