Martin Murphy, the head of one of Ireland’s largest multinationals, has called on Ireland's Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to make science compulsory for the Leaving Certificate.
The HP Ireland boss welcomed plans to reform the Leaving Cert science curriculum but said, the government should go further and make it compulsory for students to take a science subject in the exam.
Murphy is quoted as saying: “It's crucial that we make science compulsory as a first step and then consider looking at bonus points for one of the science choices. There is a significant opportunity for employment in the ICT sector, so equipping students with those skills early in the life cycle is the right approach.”
The Central Applications Office has reported a surge in demand for third-level science courses from this year's school leavers. Murphy has said Quinn should now consider giving bonus university-entry points to science subjects. He added that along with a mandatory science subject it was critical that all students leaving secondary level should also be competent in at least two international languages.
Minister of State for science and technology, Sean Sherlock, is set to appoint an expert advisory group whose brief will be to recommend measures to raise the standard of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) at second level to those achieved in Finland, which is used as a benchmark for education levels.
Another powerful body, IBEC (Irish Business and Employers' Confederation), has joined the debate by declaring that science should be declared a “core” subject for the Junior Certificate.
Reaction to this proposal from the Department of Education, however, has been negative. It has told IBEC that making the subject mandatory is not being considered.
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