Seanad Eireann candidate Peter Finnegan calls on the Minister for Education & Skills to provide certainty to Junior, Leaving Certificate and University students worried about final exams in the current Coronavirus crisis.
“I have been contacted by University students facing final exams, and by parents at Second Level who are anxious about the Leaving Cert exams. Individuals who are at these critical moments of their education journey need clarification and certainty.
“I commend the Government for the strong and resolute focus on mobilising medical expertise and community solidarity to tackle the Coronavirus. In this emergency, we are seeing a level of leadership that generates trust and is transparent.
“Our greatest weakness, however, remains fear and worry. I call on the Minister for Education now to remove the fear and worry of the student population by taking resolute action in respect of final exams. This will also reduce the pressure faced by teaching staff and parents.
“We all know this Covid-19 health crisis will not see life return to normal in the next 12 weeks. So let’s defer now final university and Leaving Certificate examinations until September. The Junior Certificate should be cancelled for this year. This simple, honest and realistic move would resolve the worry and uncertainty which is an unnecessary added pressure on teachers, parents, and students in the middle of the greatest crisis we have faced as a nation since the Famine.
“The establishment of a realistic timetable would also allow the dedicated and committed teaching staff in second and third level to assess and plan how they might make up lost teaching and curriculum delivery time for students over the next few months.
“The Leaving Cert and final university examinations have an influence on career choices. These June 2020 finishing classes should have the same opportunity that others have had. Let the virus not deny them, defer the exams now!
“While I realise this will present challenges for the CAO process and university/college intake in October, it is feasible to allocate additional resources to marking and assessing exam papers, and delay the first-year intake at third level by a month, lengthen term periods, and make up the ground over the 2020/21 academic year.
“Government and the public service are acting resolutely in respect of measures to address the immediate challenges to health and life. We need to see the same resolute, realistic and planned approach to minimizing the collateral harm that can impact on individuals facing final exams.”
Peter Finnegan is an Independent Candidate on the NUI Panel for Seanad Eireann. He is an elected member of the Governing Authority of Maynooth University and is a member of the Teaching Council of Ireland, the statutory body responsible for professional standards and regulation of the teaching profession at first, second, and third levels in Ireland. Peter worked for 15 years in FAS (now Solas and ETBs) on Training and Employment programmes.