The STEM Education in the Irish School System report was published today by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton. The 72-page report into the teaching of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) was commissioned three years ago. How did it take this long? The review group was chaired by Pro Brian MacCraith of DCU.
|Image source: Dept of Education.
There are 50 recommendations in the report (of which the Minister says he will act on 21) - the headline one is that "computer science (including coding) as a Leaving Certificate curriculum subject" - this is regarded as "critical to address the ICT skills deficit in Ireland". The report also suggests the establishment of a National STEM Education Research Centre, modelled on similar in the UK.
I definitely have no argument with this and the many other recommendations in the report. It recognises that teachers will be central to any initiative, though one of the proposed initiatives requires primary teachers to "pass all STEM-methodology-related subjects (without compensation) in final examinations, where this is not currently the case" - good luck with getting that past the INTO!
Adding more computer science to the Leaving Cert has consequences for Third-level education where this is typically done today. Very few students going to College know how to code, Colleges would have to adjust so that we are building upon what is learned in secondary school. I would imagine that a Leaving Cert Honours subject in Programming would match a lot of what students learn in first and second year of College - for an honours subject the level would have to be set quite high. If school leavers know how to write code - do they need to go on to College to learn more? Would/could they be hired straight away by companies who have a skills shortage in this area?
The full report is available at: http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/STEM-Education-in-the-Irish-School-System.pdf.