Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has described as “extremely worrying” the findings from an OECD (Organisation and Economic Co-operate Development) think-tank which suggests that not enough time is being spent teaching science based subjects in Irish primary schools.
The OECD 'Education at a Glance' report reveals that only 4% of classroom time is actually devoted to science, a figure that is half the international average and contrasts with the time spent teaching a subject like religion which stands at 10%.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Despite Ireland being in the grip of a recession, the science and IT based industries continues to flourish to the extent that Irish based firms are being forced to recruit abroad for personnel who can fulfil specialised roles.
“It is extremely worrying that this report’s findings show Ireland lagging way behind other OECD countries in the amount of time allocated in primary schools to the teaching of science based subjects.
“The current figure of 4% is half the OECD average and this places our future workforce at a considerable disadvantage. In addition to this, our education system is ill-equipped to produce graduates who are multi-lingual, another significant impediment to finding employment in a global workforce. These are key issues Education Minister Ruairí Quinn must prioritise and address as part of any reform of science based subjects.
“Children who are taught science at a young age are better able to understand and prosper at the subject in later life. The findings of this report must be scrutinised and acted upon. The report highlights a glaring weakness in the current system.
“There needs to be far greater priority given to the teaching of science based subjects which must be done in tandem with how maths and languages are taught. If we fail to implement this type of reform, then our ability to attract jobs by having in place a highly skilled workforce will be greatly diminished.”