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We must strive for very top in science teaching

THERE is a lot we can be happy with – if not exactly proud of – in the results of two international primary school surveys released yesterday.

Irish primary school students have scored above average in the major international tests of literacy, mathematics and science. And that is, indeed, to be welcomed.

But our schools didn't make it into the top ranks . . . and that is where we need to be.

And there was particular disappointment about the performance of our pupils in science.

Shockingly, Ireland devotes only about half the teaching time, of the international average, to science.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study tested 10-year-olds in a host of countries.

Ireland scored best in reading, where pupils were ranked 10th out of the participating countries.

But the placing for maths was a less impressive 17th place and, more disappointing still, in science, which came in 22nd.

At the moment jobs opportunities, for school and college leavers, are scarce. And the sectors that are showing positive signs of growth are science and technology.

We need to give our graduates the best possible chance in these areas and our primary sector is the place to start.

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Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is right to take solace from our overall performance but, as he said himself, there is no room for complacency.

Our young students deserve the best and the nation's future prosperity is, at least, part dependent on it.

Let's not be found wanting.

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