Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today expressed disappointment at the figures released by the OECD in its PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) report, which found that the performance of Irish 15 year olds in science has declined since the last survey in 2012. Ireland ranked 13th in both science and mathematics, out of a survey of 35 OECD countries in 2015. This compares with a ranking of 9th in science and 13th in mathematics in 2012.
Ibec Head of Education Policy Tony Donohoe said: ‘‘Ireland’s continuing strong performance in reading, where Irish students were ranked 3rd in the OECD, is welcome. However, the overall performance in science and mathematics is not good enough to support our economic ambition. We live in a scientific and technological age. A major improvement in science and mathematics outcomes at school level is required if we want to compete at the highest levels.
“The mathematics results at a higher level, where we perform below the OECD average, is also a source of concern. Ireland’s aspiration to be a knowledge economy depends on a strong supply of engineers and technologists. The future of high-technology companies in Ireland will depend on sufficient numbers of suitably qualified graduates. If students want to pursue these disciplines, they must have a strong foundation in mathematics at secondary school.’
“Irish businesses are increasingly looking to recruit graduates with STEM skills. If we are to meet the ambitious targets from the recently published report of the Government’s STEM Education Review Group and the proposals set out under the STEM 2020 Partnership, the Irish education system must overhaul how these subjects are taught and attract more students to study them.”