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Ireland - Summary

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceIreland - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Since the 1960s, the Irish have been aware of serious deficiencies in the educational system. Reforms, however, have been incomplete and less than satisfactory, as several studies and self-studies note.

In 1966, a research team headed by educator Patrick Lynch completed a thorough analysis of the primary and secondary systems and produced a scathing report called "Investment in Education." In 1967, a report completed by a special commission on higher education concluded that the third-level was no less problematic. Changes were implemented immediately, although these were less successful than ministers of education, parents, and politicians hoped they would be. The primary level revamped its curriculum. Smaller secondary schools with aging facilities and other deficiencies were consolidated with stronger schools into institutions with a modern look and characteristics. Of utmost importance, the government made it possible for many of Ireland's sons and daughters to receive an education at state expense.

The combination of free schools and better facilities pleased parents immensely. In 1965-1966, there were 143,000 students enrolled in postprimary schools. Fifteen years later, 301,000 students enrolled. For the immediate future, Ireland's educational prospects continue to look promising at the university level in particular. In 1995, the Steering Committee on the Future Development of Higher Education released projections of a total enrollment of 120,000 students in higher education by 2005. The predicted increase has been attributed at an economic boom, technological development, and greater opportunities for lower-income students.

According to a new report released in 2001 by census officials, more than 25 percent of all births in the Republic of Ireland now occur outside marriage. The information is contained in a new compendium publication Ireland, North and South—a statistical profile that has been jointly produced by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and the Republic of Ireland's Central Statistics Office (CSO). The high number of children from one-parent homes is expected to have an effect on primary education in Ireland by 2005, and it eventually will affect secondary schools.


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—Hank Nuwer

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