“Quantum Leap” Needed in Education to Secure our Future Prospects
In Kerry today (Friday) the Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny, said that the future of our economy was dependent of transforming, not just improving our education system. He also said that he was very encouraged by the positive response of business leaders to his radical plan to make the lap-top the schoolbag of the future, by giving a personal computer to every student entering secondary school, within the lifetime of the new government.
Developing that, and other key proposals, in what his new vision for education in Ireland, Enda Kenny, stressed that the future of our economy, jobs and prosperity were all critically dependent, not just on improving education, but actually “transforming” it. “If we’re serious about our economic future, there’s no other way. We need a quantum leap in education, to secure our future in the knowledge economy. A business-as-usual approach will spell economic decline for the next generation.”
Addressing concerns by teachers’ unions on some aspects of his proposals, he said taking a huge leap in education would require new thinking and new attitudes on all sides.
“If we want the best possible future for Ireland, education can no longer be partisan. We will have to rise above the old, sectoral interests and instead, make education a national challenge, one which children, parents, teachers and a new government will meet – and this time – meet together. Because, we all share the same vision, the same ambition, the same goal.”
Stressing the vital role of teachers in our society, he said – “This is about progress, performance and prosperity and no teacher wants to hold this country back.”
“It’s time for education to revolve around the child/pupil, not around outdated systems that worked well in the 20th century but had no place in the 21st. Ireland is lagging behind our EU counterparts in the number of days a child can learn at school, when you compare our 167 days with 180 in Austria, 190 in Canada, Finland and Norway and 220 days in Germany. The teaching profession faces an enormous challenge given the increased requirements expected to be delivered in the school day and year.
“With a child-centred system we would use a compelling trio of technology, investment and reform to:
– Transform standards of literacy and numeracy;
– Make our young people the most technology literate in the world;
– Create a child-centred, contemporary, world-class education system that would drive our economy, jobs and success in the future.
“We must make our children the most literate and numerate in the world. The biggest, single threat to our economy is the consistently poor standards of literacy and numeracy that haven’t improved despite all the money spent. A child who cannot read is automatically excluded from the knowledge economy. One in three children in disadvantaged areas can barely read and write. Already, a quarter of Irish adults function at the lowest level of literacy. They have trouble filling out forms, helping children with homework, reading the dosage on a medicine bottle. We must tackle disadvantage to eradicate this, so we can move up the value chain and avoid economic disaster.”