Friday 22 February 2019

Teachers must end stand-off on reform

The core problem for many parents is that the Junior Cert has largely lost its relevance.
The core problem for many parents is that the Junior Cert has largely lost its relevance.
Editorial

Editorial

One has to have sympathy for Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan and her efforts to reach some sort of compromise on the thorny subject of reform of the Junior Certificate.

The unions, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), have rebuffed a draft solution to this long-running dispute put forward by mediator Dr Pauric Travers, saying that significant issue remains.

But they declined to say last night what precisely these issues were.

Ms O'Sullivan, for her part, must feel that while she has conceded much already, no substantial concessions have come from the unions.

Nonetheless, they are now demanding, at the very least, major change, clarification and negotiation after conceding nothing and going on strike for two days, much to the inconvenience and indeed anger of many parents.

The core problem for many parents is that the Junior Cert has largely lost its relevance.

It badly needs to be revitalised, but the unions have set their face against pupil assessment for certification purposes, an element of examinations accepted in many other countries.

There is little doubt that the minister is completely sincere in her desire to settle this contentious issue of school-based assessment after 40 years of reports, discussions and committees.

The unions now also need to consider making a positive contribution to this by going some way to meet her.

The Junior Cert is suffering as a result and there is anecdotal evidence of more affluent pupils leaving secondary schools (both public and private) to attend grind schools where teachers are assessed and graded on the exam results that their pupils achieve.

If clarification is needed, it should be given quickly and the package put to a ballot of all members in the two unions.

Sinn Fein shows true face in Veronica row

The saddest aspect of the controversy about the naming of the N7 flyover bridge at Newlands Cross, Dublin is that it is turning the memory of Veronica Guerin into a political football.

In a free society, Sinn Féin is, of course, at liberty to dislike whatever media outlets it chooses, although its leader Gerry Adams' veiled threat against journalists working for Independent News & Media in particular, is repugnant to many and a direct attack on the freedom of expression that most of us believe in.

That his party are now objecting to a proposal to name the crossing where Veronica Guerin was murdered after the 'Sunday Independent' journalist, on the dubious grounds of creating a "hierarchy" of victims is not only nonsensical but is an insult to the memory of a brave and relentless reporter who would not bow to the bully-boy tactics of criminals and paid the ultimate price.

The family of Veronica Guerin have now requested that the proposal be withdrawn and their wishes should be respected.

However, all lovers of real freedom should remember the shameful way Sinn Féin has behaved, when it comes to casting their ballot in the future.

Irish Independent

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