24/04/2014

Govt Urged To Lead National History Debate

The government have been urged to establish a national debate on the teaching of history at secondary school ahead of 1916 Easter Rising commemoration.

Making the call, Clare Fine Gael Senator and Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Disability, Martin Conway, said: "As we approach the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, I am deeply concerned at the decline in the number of second level students choosing History at Leaving Certificate level. In order to move forward, I passionately believe that we need to know about and understand the past.

"The centenary of the 1916 Rising will provide a focus on the history of our State and I believe this gives us an ideal opportunity to have a debate involving all of the relevant stakeholders including teachers, union representatives, parents, students, the Department of Education, academics and all other citizens. A discussion is needed on how we teach young people history and how much importance we, as a society, want to place on learning about the past.

"History teachers have already expressed deep concern about how they believe the changes to the Junior Certificate syllabus could lead to many schools dropping history as a subject at junior cycle. This of course would have knock on effects to the numbers taking the subject for their leaving certificate.

"While there has been a very worthwhile focus placed on encouraging pupils to study Maths and Science in recent years, I think we should not lose focus on the need to study our history. Everybody should learn lessons from the past.

"The events of 1916 must be viewed against the backdrop of the broader nationalist movement and circumstances of that time, and it saddens me to think that future generations of our young people will not have studied major events in our history such as the 1916 Easter Rising. It is my view that an educational system has not succeeded unless all of our citizens have some knowledge of the major historical events which helped form our nation."

(MH)

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