We're a long way away from hitting world-class standards, admits Quinn
THE Irish education system has a "long way to go to become world class", Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has admitted. He said the assertion that Ireland had one of the best education systems in the world "was frequently trotted out in the past, but blatantly wasn't true".
Mr Quinn said it was based on nothing other than "a feel-good factor that was communicated to us at home by the greater Irish diaspora who felt, for whatever reason, that it was better than what their children were experiencing in other parts of the world."
The minister was speaking at a conference on maths education, at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, ahead of the first Cabinet meeting since the summer holidays.
The Cabinet met against a backdrop of rising concern and anger within the education community over the prospect of further cuts in the October budget.
Figures released this week show how, even without a much-feared cut in teacher staffing levels, primary school classes are continuing to grow simply because more pupils are entering the system. Almost one in four pupils are in classes of 30 or more.
Meanwhile, second-level teacher numbers have fallen by 650 at a time when enrolments have grown by 3,800.
Mr Quinn (right) said people should "take some heart from the fact that three out of the four members of the Government Economic Management Council are teachers".
This was a reference to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.