We need to pick up the pace to revitalise our school system
Changing a country's school system is a complex process. Ireland's primary school system is a very unusual one by international standards. Founded as long ago as 1831 as a state-supported system, it has evolved in such a way that about 96pc of the schools are classified as being denominational, the vast majority being under Catholic patronage.
Over recent decades, the Irish population has experienced great changes in terms of ethnicity, language use and religious belief. At least since the early nineties it has been recognised that the existing structure of primary school provision is no longer in harmony with the rights and needs of a growing minority of the population.
The educational rights of Irish citizens are set out in the Irish Constitution and in the Education Act of 1998. They are also endorsed in a range of international conventions, to which Ireland is a signatory.