Saturday 20 January 2018

Digital revolution for Ireland's students as Government introduces new subjects

Education Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Education Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Daniel O'Connor

Computer Science will be introduced as an optional Leaving Certificate subject from 2018 onwards, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD has announced.

It was also announced that coding will become part of the primary school maths curriculum, and a new ‘digital learning framework’ will be trialled to measure schools’ practice of digital technologies.

These new introductions were part of the new Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Action Plan 2017 launched by Minister Bruton yesterday.

Under the new strategy, new action plans will be launched on an annual basis to continually embed information and communications technology in schools.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Minister Bruton said the plan will realise the potential of young people in the new "digital revolution".

“Creative thinking and problem-solving skills are critical to our children developing and achieving their potential,” Minister Bruton said.

“In particular, their ability to think critically and develop solutions in the digital world will be vital for their prospects in life. Digital technology is revolutionising our careers.”

“We want to ensure that Ireland is well placed to take advantage of the digital revolution which is taking place, and having a transformative effect on our economy, workplace, and lifestyle.”

To facilitate this plan, €180 million will be invested in upgrading ICT (information and computer technology) facilities in schools over the next four years.

It is believed Computer Science has been fast tracked into the Leaving Certificate programme amidst fears over the skill levels of students in computing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) courses.

A study of college and university courses between 2012/13 and 2013/14 from the Higher Education Authority noted that Computer Science courses had the highest non-progression rate for Level 8 degrees.

One out of five Computer Science students did not finish their course, resulting in a non-progression rate 8pc higher than the overall average.

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