Sunday 17 December 2017

Standard of maths teaching in schools is just not good enough

Easy reforms could help transform this vital subject and build the foundations for a smart economy, writes Brian Hayes

THIS year is a crucial year for Irish education. Since the start of September, over half a million young people have entered our primary school system, a figure not reached since the 1880s. Between primary, post-primary and higher education, close to a million people will be in the system in 2010/2011. That's a lot of people to keep motivated and focused for the alleged new 'smart economy'.

I recently spent some time studying what Finland did in the early Nineties when they faced an economic crash similar to our own. The collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland's main trading partner, saw GDP drop by more than 10 per cent from 1991 to 1993. Unemployment went from 3 per cent to 15 per cent, Government debt escalated and, for good measure, a banking crisis also emerged. Does this sound familiar?

Over a 10-year period, Finland went from being a basket-case economy into a knowledge economy that is ranked internationally as one of the most competitive and sustainable within the OECD. Key to their success was a radical transformation of education policy based upon improving the quality and status of the teaching profession.

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