Monday 18 February 2019

The one journey that never really ends

For pupils, parents and teachers, no other exam carries the same weight of baggage, expectation and stress; so to have made it to the peak is worth recognising and celebrating (Stock photo)
For pupils, parents and teachers, no other exam carries the same weight of baggage, expectation and stress; so to have made it to the peak is worth recognising and celebrating (Stock photo)
Editorial

Editorial

The story of the man who went up a mountain and came down a hill comes to mind with the Leaving Cert. Once over the summit and given a bit of perspective, the student feels the scale of their achievement diminish a little.

But they shouldn't. For pupils, parents and teachers, no other exam carries the same weight of baggage, expectation and stress; so to have made it to the peak is worth recognising and celebrating.

Each year comes with its drama and this was no different, with maths coming under the spotlight.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan said the number of students failing honours maths is not out of step with other subjects. She also said the 5pc figure of those taking Higher Level Maths who did not get a D or higher was not unusual. She added that this percentage is higher in other science subjects, such as physics and chemistry.

But maths carries more weight, and suggesting as she did, that students need to assess themselves in conjunction with teachers on their ability to take the Higher Level paper, is not quite good enough.

The onus is on the department to make sure that papers and teaching standards are consistent. There is also the perennial debate about it being unrealistic to judge the efficacy of what amounts to 14 years in the education system on a single exam. To be fair to the department, it is moving towards continuous assessment in some areas, and this ought to take some of the heat off the exam.

For those who didn't fare as well as they hoped, not to worry, as one of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, once pointed out: "I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 new ways of doing it wrong." For all the 58,000 who sat the Leaving Cert, the journey will be unique. The results, whether they went with you or not, are not a testament of what you are ultimately capable of but merely what you were willing to do until now. And education is the one journey that never really ends.

State should ease parents' burden on college costs

Only spies and parents never really sleep, or so they say. They might sleep a lot easier if they knew that having gone every step of the way to get their children over the threshold to college, they could afford to see them through without going deeply into the red.

Today we reveal the true extent of the burden of expense incurred by families. Most parents will agree that the money is well spent. On average families are forking out €450 a month. And borrowing more than €5,000.

A child living away from home needs €1,033 a month. This is a massive burden. Registration fees which cost about €3,000 are also set to rise.

The Government could make things a lot easier by addressing the serious shortage in accommodation for students. It should not be impossible to check the rocketing rents and incentivise leasing to encourage landlords to rent to students.

Parents contribute enormously to the State by funding their children through third level but they should not be saddled with debt as a result. The State, after all, is the ultimate beneficiary of the investment.

Irish Independent

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