Our schools lag behind on sciences

Clodagh Sheehy

WE spend more time at school and our teachers are among the best paid in the developed world, yet when it comes to maths and science we lag behind our international counterparts.

It has emerged that religion is given more than twice as much time compared to science at primary level, which is getting only half the international average time. Meanwhile, maths is getting 25pc less time, according to a new OECD report. At secondary level science is given 8pc of class time which is just two thirds of the international average.


The latest report from the OECD says the Irish education system is lagging behind most developed countries in providing students with good scientific skills at primary level.

It also shows primary level classrooms are still relatively over crowded compared to the rest of the OECD with an average of over 24 pupils compared to just over 21.

The "Education at a Glance" report, however, shows that despite the lack of attention to maths and science, when it comes to overall education Irish people are ahead of their OECD counterparts.

In the 25-34 year old bracket 87pc of people in this country have education to Leaving Cert level compared to the international average of 82pc.

Third level completion is particularly high in Ireland at 48pc -- a full 10pc above the average.

Our primary teachers are the 4th best paid among 35 OECD countries with basic salaries of €42,000 after 15 years before allowances and pension cuts compared to the average of €29,500. At second level our teachers are ranked between 5th and 8th highest paid where the international average is €31,321.