Introduction of new subjects in Ireland to make a digital revolution for students

Posted: 26 Jun 2017

Introduction of new subjects in Ireland to make a digital revolution for students

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, has recently announced that Computer Science will be introduced as an optional Leaving Certificate subject from 2018.

In addition to this, it was also announced that similar measures will be taken for children as early as primary school age, with coding becoming part of the standard maths curriculum. A new ‘digital learning framework’ will also be trialled, in order to measure schools’ practice of technologies, ensuring Ireland is keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to the digital industry.

With the widespread use of technology, both at home and at the workplace, it is vital that children complete schooling systems with a sufficient level of expertise in ICT. Education has always aligned with industry and market developments, and the ever-increasing focus on the digital means that using information technology skills confidently is of paramount importance for upcoming generations.

These new regulations are part of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Action Plan 2017, that was launched by Minister Bruton on 19 June. Minister Bruton spoke of how he hoped the plan will release the potential of the younger generations throughout this “digital revolution”. Under this new strategy, action plans will commence annually, in the hope to continually improve information and communications technology in schools. Minister Bruton said:

‘Creative thinking and problem-solving skills are critical to our children developing and achieving their potential. In particular, their ability to think critically and develop solutions in the digital world will be vital for their prospects in life. Digital technology is revolutionising our careers.’

The plan will be funded by €180 million, which will be invested in upgrading the information and computer technology facilities in schools all over the country over the next four years. There have been fears circulating surrounding the skillset of students in computing as well as science, technology, engineering and maths in Ireland. It is believed that Computer Science has been fast-tracked into the Leaving Certificate programme as a result of these concerns, ensuring that the upcoming generation are well-equipped to tackle IT jobs in Ireland and other areas upon completion.

The Higher Education Authority conducted studies of college and university courses between 2012 and 2014, finding that Computer Science courses were amongst the higher non-progression rates for Level 8 degrees. In other words, one out of every five Computer Science Students did not finish their course. This led them to have a non-progression rate 8% higher than the overall average, further highlighting the need for change in order to adapt to a global climate that is ever-dependent upon the digital.

Minister Bruton also talked about what these changes mean for Ireland and how they will contribute to the economy in the future. He said:

‘We want to ensure that Ireland is well placed to take advantage of the digital revolution which is taking place, and having a transformative effect on our economy, workplace, and lifestyle’.

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