Monday 20 January 2020

Ex-Intel boss urges maths bias in schools


A KEY adviser to US president Barack Obama last night said Ireland's education system needed to do better, if the economy was to compete on the world stage.

Leading industrialist Dr Craig Barrett, the former CEO and chairman of Intel, was in Dublin speaking to key policy-makers on how to kickstart economic growth

He put forward a 10-point plan, with a strong focus on setting higher performance expectations for the education system, particularly around maths and science.

Dr Barrett caused a stir with comments he made about Ireland at the Government's Global Economic forum in Farmleigh, in September, and was invited back for last night's public lecture in the Mansion House under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy.

He was recently appointed by Mr Obama as a private sector leader for national education, science, technology, engineering and maths.

His 10-point plan included allowing a bias towards maths and science in the Leaving Certificate points system to overcome the situation where students opted for other subjects where it was easier to pick up points.

His plan for Ireland includes:

  • Setting educational sights high and aiming to be the first in the world in key skills such as maths and science, rather than just average.
  • Improving the competency and quality of maths teachers, only 65pc of whom have a maths background.
  • Primary and secondary education should focus on problem solving, learning for inquiry and building cross-disciplinary skills and away from rote learning.
  • Increasing the number of maths and science graduates by showing a bias towards these subjects in the Leaving Certificate points system, and tackling the problem where students take subjects where "there is a higher probability of getting more points for less work".
  • Bringing Irish universities up to the standards of places like Stanford University, with smart people driving smart spin-off industries.
  • Doubling the investment in research and development as previously envisaged by the Government as 3pc of Ireland's GDP.

Irish Independent

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