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IRELAND’S education system

Posted by Francis O' Toole on November 28, 2012

IRELAND’S education system is ranked 11th in the world in a new global top 50 ranking.

The performance is boosted by literacy standards, as well as the number of students who do the Leaving Certificate and achieve a third-level qualification. The landmark study considered a broad range of measures to decide what makes an effective education system – one that works well for both the student and society.

Finland and South Korea top the table as “education superpowers”, followed by Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, the UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada.

Salaries – Although narrowly missing a top-10 placing, Ireland is ahead of Denmark, Australia, Poland, Germany, Belgium and the US.

The Learning Curve report was carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit for educational publishers Pearson to help identify what drives good educational outcomes. At one level, it looked at inputs into education such as government spending, school entrance age, teacher salaries and degree of school choice. On another, it considered the outcomes such as literacy levels and graduation rates from school and university, as well as wider economic and social measures, including unemployment rates, life expectancy and prison population.

Among the key findings are that while money spent on education reaps rewards, what matters more is the wider culture and the level of support it offers to promote better educational outcomes. The report also concludes that there is no substitute for high-quality teachers, whose impact extends beyond good results for the individual student, to wider societal factors such as lower levels of teenage pregnancy. It states that finding and retaining good teachers is not necessarily a question of high pay, but of valuing them as professionals and not as technicians in a huge, educational machine.

Ireland scores particularly well in literacy and graduation rates, coming fifth behind South Korea, UK, Finland and Poland. Higher Education Authority chief executive Tom Boland said Ireland was performing well when it came to levels of educational attainment, both in numbers progressing to higher education but that “we cannot rest on our laurels”.

– Katherine Donnelly Irish Independent

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