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Maths teaching doesn't add up

WE now know that the poor performance of students in maths is at least partly due to poor teaching of the subject. Nearly half of post-primary maths teachers are not properly qualified.

Maths is not just another school subject. For many it is the key to the technological disciplines that are essential to Ireland's future economic development.

Maths is the language that the physicists, engineers and electronics wizards of the near future require.

The gifted few who will be capable of unlocking the wonders of higher, pure maths need the inspiration and guidance of skilled and dedicated teachers who love their subject.

How many teachers are capable of conveying the beauty and creativity of mathematics to a young and receptive mind?

More practically, perhaps, multinational employers have warned that poor maths skills are seriously detrimental to this country's competitiveness.

The University of Limerick report has found that one cause of our national deficit in mathematics skills is the high proportion of maths teachers who are simply not qualified to do the job.

Clearly this is a self-perpetuating problem. Poor teaching leads to poor results, and students whose inherent abilities might have been tapped, and who might themselves have gone on to become great maths teachers, will turn elsewhere.

The department is looking into the problem, it seems, but it had better get a move on.

Each year sees another generation of graduates, some of whom might never have had their true, fruitful and satisfying potential revealed to them.

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