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Alarm bells as 2,000 fail ordinary maths

THE long wait is over for almost 57,000 Junior Cert students who received their results today.

The exam results overall are in line with last year, however concerns have been raised about the high failure rates among students in maths, science and foreign languages.

Less than half of the 65,930 candidates sat higher level maths this year -- meaning it was the least popular exam subject.

Close to 2,000 students (7.5pc) failed ordinary level maths while almost 4pc failed the subject at higher level.

Further pressure has been heaped on Education Minister Ruairi Quinn after a top international think-tank found that our problems in maths begins at primary school level.

An OECD report published today reveals that Irish primary students spent far less time being taught maths compared to international standards.

And in a further blow, the much talked-up Project Maths -- designed to make the subject more relevant to the workplace and supported by Department of Education ambassador Aoibhinn ni Shuilleabhain -- failed to produce as many 'A' grades as the traditional paper.

However, encouragingly, 52pc of students sat the higher level paper -- 7pc more than those who sat the traditional maths paper.

Science also threw up concerns with the number of students picking up an 'A' or 'B' grade dropping from 45pc last year to 41pc.

High failure rates in foreign languages will also provide cause for concern today.

Almost 12pc of students failed ordinary level French, while failure rates were also considerably high in ordinary level Spanish (8pc) and German (7.5pc).

Mr Quinn today congratulated students on their hard work over the past three years.

He said: "Today's results are the culmination of many hours of hard work by all students, their parents and teachers and they all should be very proud of what has been achieved.

"I am very pleased to see that the number of students taking higher level science has increased again this year, with over 2,500 more students taking the paper.

And the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has encouraged all students who received their results today to consider the importance of achieving their Leaving Cert given the current climate.

Spokeswoman Annette Dolan said: "It has never been more vital in the current climate."