26/10/2009

Teachers' Qualifications 'Don't Add Up'

A parliamentary question by a member of the opposition has revealed that over a third of Maths teachers in Irish Secondary schools are not qualified in the subject.

Fine Gael's Brian Hayes accused the Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe of being "asleep at the wheel" on the issue, after putting the question to him under the Freedom of Information act.

Mr Hayes released the information this weekend after a Parliamentary Question he tabled showed that only 3,858 of the 5,900 Maths teachers at second level actually qualified in the subject.

“The fact that over 2,000 maths teachers do not have a Maths degree must be of some concern," the Fine Gael representative said.

“While the quality of Maths teaching is still high, it would obviously be an advantage that every teacher that taught Maths had actually studied it. Maths graduates should be given incentives to become teachers. One proposal would be to give a discount in fees to Maths graduates who do a HDip.

“However, Batt O’Keeffe is asleep at the wheel and has done little to address the problem. His much vaunted 'Project Maths' is under pressure."

Mr Hayes went on to say that only 16% of Leaving Cert students, chose to sit the Higher Level paper this year, which is down from level of 17% of students talking the paper.

He also pointed out that nearly two-thirds of students who sit Higher Level Maths at Junior Cert level drop to Ordinary Level for the Leaving Cert.

Mr Hayes went on to say: "A new approach is needed that encourages second level students to opt for Higher Level Maths and then choose science and technology courses at third level. Providing bonus points for Higher Level Maths is one way of doing this."

Irish students come 16th out of the 30 OECD countries in maths. The subject is dogged by persistently high failure rates in Leaving Cert maths with more than 4,000 having failed the subject this year.

(DW/BMcc)

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